Pocaster: Rob Webb

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Title: Observing With Webb April 2023

Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School

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follow me : @MrWebbPV on Twitter and Instagram

Don’t forget this podcast is found on my Podbean page, Stitcher, and iTunes.  There’s also a video version on my YouTube Channel and I can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @mrwebbpv. The Pequea Valley Planetarium and its events and updates are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @pvplanetarium.

Use a sky map from to help you out.


Venus shines bright all month, Mercury makes a 3 week appearance, Mars hangs out with Gemini, Saturn continues its morning planet season, and the Lyrids have excellent observing conditions.

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Venus shines bright all month, Mercury makes a 3 week appearance, Mars hangs out with Gemini, Saturn continues its morning planet season, and the Lyrids have excellent observing conditions.

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night. 

Naked-eye PLANETS


  • Mercury – For about the first 3 weeks of April, you can catch a good glimpse of Mercury. Look West after sunset and you might find dim Mercury juuuust above the horizon, well below Venus.  Your best chance is probably mid-month, when it’s highest, but less than halfway between the horizon and Venus.
  • Venus – Look W after sunset. It’ll be the brightest object and probably the first “star” you’ll see, about 30˚ above the horizon.
  • Mars – Look WSW and 2/3 of the way up the sky, for a dull reddish dot in the sky, above Orion and around the legs of the Gemini twins.

Throughout the night – None


  • Saturn – Saturn will be just above the ESE horizon in the early mornings, and rising earlier every day after.


Evening Gibbous (Mostly lit, after Sunset)

Full Moon6th (Visible all night)

Waning Gibbous (Mostly lit, rises later at night)

Last Quarter Moon – 13th (Visible midnight into the morning)

Morning Crescents (look East in the AM)

New Moon – 20th (darkest skies)

Evening Crescents (look West after Sunset)

First Quarter Moon – 27th (Visible until midnight)

10th – 11thVenus, Pleiades – Find that bright dot in the sky which is Venus, then look a little to the right and find the wonderful Pleiades star cluster, a favorite of mine – what I call the mini-mini-dipper in my planetarium shows.

16thMoon, Saturn – Get up early, look SE, and find a thin crescent Moon with Saturn about 5˚ above it.  Great picture opportunity.

21st – 26th CLOSE ENCOUNTER – Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars – This weekend the Moon travels closely by 3 visible planets.  Mercury is lowest in the sky, with easily visible Venus 25˚ above and to the left.  Mars is then another 30˚ (three fist-widths) up and to the left of that.  The Moon starts off about 8˚ above Mercury on Friday the 21st, after sunset.  The Pleiades is also there, between Venus and the Moon – quite the lineup!  The following day, Saturday the 22nd, the Moon moves to be in between Venus and the Pleiades.  On the 23rd, the Moon is just above Venus, then travels to be almost perfectly in between Venus and Mars on the 24th, all the while getting thicker. Then, on the 25th, the Moon is just 3˚ to the right of Mars, and then starts getting farther away from the planets every night after.

22nd LYRID METEOR SHOWER – At only 10-20 meteors per hour, it is a minor shower, but we have essentially no Moon to get in the way of the best observing.  The shower is greatest on the 22nd, but you might see some on the 21st and 23rd as well.  Just remember each meteor is piece of debris left over from a comet, and we’re crashing into it at over 100,000 miles per hour, which crushes the atmosphere it hits, heating it up and causing the bright flash.  The best viewing is between 2am and 4:30am, but you never know when you’ll see something awesome.

Some advice for watching:

Find a dark location and lie down in a reclining chair or something that insulates you from the ground.

Check the weather to see if the skies will be clear

Adapt your eyes to the dark by staying away from light sources or using a red light if you need to look at a star chart or not trip over something. 

If you’re feeling extra nerdy, do a scientific meteor count (S&T and IMO)


Use a sky map from to help you out.

After Dinner:

Leo, Orion & his winter companions – Leo will be high in the South, almost straight above you. It has a backward question mark with a right triangle to the left of the question mark. Also, take a moment to get your last glimpse Orion, Taurus, the Pleiades, Gemini, Auriga, and Canis Major off in the West.

Before Bed:

Big Dipper, Bootes – If you look above Leo, behind you and high in the sky, you should find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.

Before Work:

Lyra, Hercules, Hercules Cluster – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Next to that is a keystone shaped constellation called Hercules. On the right side of the keystone is a small cluster of stars known at the Hercules Cluster, which is a collection of hundreds of stars on the outskirts of our galaxy. Given how high it is in the sky right now, you might catch its faint fuzziness with your naked eye, but a set of binoculars or a small telescope will really help you see it.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy

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