Maya del Mar's Daykeeper Journal: Astrology, Consciousness and Transformation
A penumbral lunar eclipse
A penumbral lunar eclipse

A P R I L   S K Y W A T C H

A full night sky

by Maya del Mar

People who recognize nothing else in the night sky—except the moon—will suddenly exclaim, "Oh, there’s the Dipper!" The Big Dipper is perhaps the most well-known and beloved star group. It starts coming into sight in late winter, and graces our Northern Hemisphere skies in all its grandeur throughout spring and summer.

April is peak viewing month for the Big Dipper. Each night this month, at around 10:00 p.m. local time, it appears higher in the sky. By the last week of the month, it appears above us, and it looks huge. At that time the pointer stars, which mark the left side of the bowl, point straight down to the North Star, which is at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper.

(For us on Earth, all of the stars currently revolve around the North Star. Many groups call it the Guiding Star, and it has a featured place in astral energy work.)

The Big Dipper, or Big Bear, has long been prominent in mythologies throughout the world. It is, in fact, the nearest star cluster to earth. Thus it looks so big. Most of its stars lie at the same 80-light-year distance from us. They are the same spectral type, nearly the same brightness, and they have the same motion through space. This makes it likely that from earth’s vantage point, the Big Dipper is the most ancient intact star cluster. It’s always amazing to me how mythology has such a close correlation with science.

The other big feature of April’s sky is Saturn and friends. Look in the western sky after sunset, and notice Orion setting. Above Orion, he of the belt and sword, are three bright "stars," close to one another. The brightest one is Saturn, and the two others are the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux. They are still fairly high in the sky, as darkness falls. On April 15, the First Quarter Moon joins the trio.

Saturn has been hanging out with the Twins for weeks, and will hang around them for a few more weeks. They will all set together over the western horizon by then, and Saturn will disappear from the night. Saturn by longitude matches Pollux, which is considered to have a malefic influence if conjoined to a difficult planet, such as Saturn. They do connect to the U.S. and Bush charts.

(It will be nearly 30 years before we have a configuration somewhat similar to this one, creating the trio of the Twins and Saturn. At that time we will not see them in our night sky. So honor this special group! And it is so convenient now for us to view and to contemplate these astral energies.)

Brilliant Jupiter rises as sun sets, and remains visible in the sky for the entire night. It is due south at local midnight during most of the month. On April 22, Jupiter is to the upper right of the full moon.

Mars brightens our early morning skies. It rises about 3:00 a.m. on April 1, and a few minutes earlier each night.

We have two eclipses this month, a hybrid Solar Eclipse on April 8, and a penumbral Lunar Eclipse on April 24. Both of them are visible in the Americas. (Look for more change there.)

The Solar Eclipse is most intense across Central America. Its intensity radiates and diminishes from there, covering most of the United States and of Latin America. Its exactness will be at 4:37 p.m. EDT.

The Lunar Eclipse occurs at 6:06 a.m. EDT. It is penumbral, which means it passes through the outer, lighter part of Earth’s shadow. If they pay attention, observers in most of North and South America can see the Moon darken.