What’s up? The night sky April-June 2022

As we leave summer behind the constellation of Orion sets in the western sky earlier in the night whilst in the east Scorpius rises. Both have bright red stars – Betelgeuse, a red supergiant in Orion and Antares in Scorpius. Crux or the Southern Cross is higher in the evening sky with the two bright stars known as the Pointers (in the constellation Centaurus) make it easier to find. The brighter of these is Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light years from us is actually a binary star with the two stars easily distinguishable in a small telescope. The system also has a third star Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf stars that is currently the closest star to us other than the Sun.

If you are looking for planets you’ll have to be an early riser for most of the next few months. For those of you up early on Anzac Day, 25 April, you’ll be treated to a view of four planets, from top to bottom: Saturn, Mars, Venus and Jupiter with the crescent Moon in the eastern dawn sky. The planets are flanked by the bright stars Altair to the top left and Formalhaut and Achernar to the right. You may even see some meteors, part of the η-Aquariids shower.

Image shows a simulation of the night sky with some stars visible. In the middle of the image are a vertical string of planets and the Moon, with Saturn and the Moon at the top then Mars, Venus and Jupiter at the bottom.

The dawn sky facing east around 5.30am on Anzac Day, 25 April. Image produced using the free software, Stellarium: https://stellarium.org/.

Rob Hollow, CSIRO