"Five Fine Planets and a Star that Exploded in 1054 A.D.!"

Scheduled air date: 2003 Apr 14-20

In the early evening sky, three planets can be seen in the west—Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter.  On April 16th, Mercury will be at greatest eastern elongation—the point in its orbit which appears farthest eastward of the Sun as seen from Earth—and should therefore be quite easy to see.  This week Saturn appears near the famous Crab Nebula (also known as M1), which is the remnant of a star that appeared as a brilliant supernova in Earth's skies almost 950 years ago (see inset)!
(Shown about an hour after sunset on April 21st for mid-northern latitudes.  Inset shows a binocular view of Saturn and M1 on the same evening.)

In the morning sky, two more planets—Mars and Venus—can be seen in the east.  They will be visited by the Waning Crescent Moon on the mornings of April 23rd and 28th, respectively.
(Shown about half an hour before sunrise for mid-northern latitudes.)

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.

Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows.

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