April 2020 Trifecta: Pleiades, Venus, ISS

In the opening days of April 2020, the planet Venus glides past the Pleiades star cluster. This is a naked-eye celestial delight that requires no special equipment or skills; and it gets you outdoors for a safe event. An image by Fred Espenak, below, and an article by Sky & Telescope give details.

Local circumstances may provide an added treat. For observers around lower Lake Michigan, for example, the International Space Station (ISS) will cut through the same part of the sky over several days. For details for your site see Heavens-Above.com and enter your location.

By Friday, April 5, the planet Venus has passed the Pleiades slightly, but that evening is perhaps the best flyby, or at least closest pass to Venus, of ISS for observers around southern Lake Michigan. Wave hello to ISS crewmembers Jessica, Oleg, and Andrew.

Of course, on the heels of one of the cloudiest months of February and March in history, weather is a frustrating interrupter. However, Venus and ISS are stunningly bright, and perhaps visible even with thin or partly cloudy skies. Get out and look up.

For other celestial activities in April 2020 see blogs Biding Time at Night and Earth Day Includes Earth Night. I recommend the Sky Calendar from Abrams Planetarium (the sample today on the bottom of their page is for April 2020) and Eyes on the Sky with David Fuller.

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