Star Gazing in April

For the star map click here
For the diary Astronomical Phenomena for April 2013 click here
Indian names are given in italics and also in Devnagri

We begin this month from WEST.   Orion, the Hunter (Mruga, मृग) is now about to set over the western horizon. (See close up on Orion)

First look for and identify three stars in one line. These are the belt stars of Orion. The bright star left and below the belt stars is Rigel (Rajanya  राजन्य).  This is the sixth brightest star in the night sky.  It is about 773 light years from us and is about 78 times as big as our sun is.  It is a very hot star with surface temperature is of the order of 11,000 K.  In contrast the star at upper right side of the three belt stars is Betelgeuse, (Kakshi, काक्षी) that has surface temperature of just about 3,500 K and is about 642 light years from us. Astronomers put the diameter of this star to about 1180 times the diameter of the Sun.  That is the star is so big that if placed at our Sun, it will engulfed half the solar system.

You can not see that there are two more stars in this direction – one right above Rigel and one below Betelgeuse.  All these seven stars make the basic Orion constellation.

Now look for the object marked as M42 to the left of the three stars in an line.  This is the beautiful nebula is Orion Nebula. It is possibly the one the most observed object in the sky, both by amateur and professional astronomers. Under the clear dark sky you can even make out reddish glow of the object.

If you extend the line of the belt stars upwards and to the left then you will see the brightest star of the night sky Sirius (Vyadh – व्याध).

…. to be continued

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About skytonight

I am the present Director of Nehru Planetarium of Nehru Centre Mumbai, India I like to talk about astronomy and sky observations to general public.
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