Venus the morning star, binocular comets, and fading winter constellations

Venus climbs in the morning sky this week being a beacon in the morning sky before sunrise and there are some comets you can find with binoculars which are worth a look. The winter constellations are fading so get a last look. Here is your guide to the sky for April 10 to15, 2017…

Starchart courtesy of

Planets – becoming stationary instead of wandering

Mercury is getting lower in our skies and will set around 8:15 pm this week evening twilight.  Mars has crossed into Taurus and it is worth comparing it to red Aldebaran.  It sets at 10:00 pm this week.    Jupiter is in the eastern sky at sunset and 2 degrees from the Moon on Monday evening. Jupiter is just past closest approach to Earth and provides nice views in binoculars and small telescopes.  Saturn rises in the eastern sky around 12:30 am this week in the constellation of Sagittarius.  While Venus rises areoung 4:39 am in the east.  It is stationary on Wednesday this week

Try finding a comet with binoculars

Comet Tuttle-Giacibini-Kresak or 41P has brightened a bit and makes a nice view in binoculars in the constellation of Draco.  Look for it early in the evening in the northern sky.  It will be easier to see it toward the end of the week when there is less moonlight in your early evening sky.  Comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy has brightened to 7th magnitude and is visible in Pegaususwith binoculars low in the eastern sky about an hour before sunrise. Finally try spotting C/2015 ER61 PANSTARRS in Cappricornus around 4:30 am.

Comet 41P

Comet Lovejoy


Satellites to see

Monday evening look for the ISS from 9:09 to 9:11 pm moving from west to southwest. Tuesday you can see it from 8:15 to 8:21 pm moving from west southeast. Thursday look for it from 9:00 to 9:04 pm moving from west to southwest.

Grab your binoculars and check out the spring feast of comets, or catch Venus in the morning sky.  See if you can catch the fading winter constellations of Orion, Taurus, and Canis Major. Happy stargazing and keep your eye on the sky!


Shawn Laatsch

About Shawn Laatsch

Shawn Laatsch is the director of the Emera Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium at the University of Maine. He started his astronomy education career in 1984 and has directed planetariums in university and science center facilities, taught undergraduate astronomy courses, and given numerous lectures around the globe. He serves as President (2017 & 2018) of the International Planetarium Society, Inc. the world’s largest organization of planetarium professionals. Shawn has a passion for sharing astronomy and stargazing with people of all ages.