By Peter Becker
Get up and greet the milk man and enjoy what the sky has to offer! Milk man? I must be showing my age. Please tell me some communities still have milk deliveries at your front door!
At any rate, when there isnít any Moon, the Milky Way glows beautifully as seen from a dark sky in the early morning spring sky. The hazy Milky Way Band is not well seen in the evening in April or May.
Bright planet Saturn will be visible low in the south-southeast as morning twilight begins.
You can get a jump on the calendar by going out in the wee hours. While most people keep their pillow appointment, the stars never sleep. In the pre-dawn hours we face the side of the sky that will be prominent in the evening a few months for now. That means, in April you can get a preview of the constellations of mid-summer's evening sky.
Early morning stargazing can be especially memorable. You seem to have the sky to yourself, and noise from traffic, boom-boxes and other neighborhood activity is at a minimum. If you are fortunate to live in even a semi-rural area, as spring progresses, you can revel in the dance of the fireflies, competing with the more static stars above them, and the sweet and mysterious night sounds of owls, crickets and peep-toads. If you hear the coyotes, cougars and bears, then maybe its time to stargaze from a window.
Seriously, after midnight the sky is often the most clear, when the dayís air pollution tends to settle down. There are less commercial and residential lights, so you not only have less direct glare, there is less lighting illuminating any dust or haze in the sky.
Evening spring skies offer you wonders, from bright orange Arcturus rising in the northeast, the Big Dipper seemingly prancing high in the north, winter's Orion and other star groups almost ready to bid good night in the west, and Leo the Lion roaring high in the south. This year, see bright planet Jupiter in the west, and as evening progresses, look for Saturn rising in the east.
Watch the crescent Moon this week as it slides past the Pleiades star cluster and Jupiter on the right. First quarter Moon is on April 17.
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Keep looking up!