What to watch for this spring

Bill Logan / For The Bulletin /

Published Apr 3, 2013 at 05:00AM

The winter constellations Orion the hunter, Taurus the bull, and Pisces the fish are slowly fading in the west and being replaced by the spring constellations Gemini, Monoceros (rhymes with rhinoceros), Cancer, Leo Major and Leo Minor and Virgo.

Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) is located directly overhead with its handle pointing to the very bright star Arcturus. If you follow a line from the handle of the Big Dipper to Arcturus and then on to Spica to the southeast, if forms the Summer Arc.

The planet Venus is completing it peek-a-boo orbit around the sun and will be getting higher every night soon after sunset. Jupiter can still be observed between the horns of Taurus until it sets at 12:08 a.m. Mars is on the other side of the sun this month and will not be visible until mid-June at 4:30 a.m. Mercury will be visible about 45 minutes before sunrise in the east and will not reach superior conjunction — when it is hidden behind the sun — until May 11th.

We are in for a visual treat April 11-14. Look west one hour after sunset and you will see a crescent moon, the Pleiades, the bright star Aldebaran and Jupiter.

Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011) L4 is getting dimmer and is now circumpolar which means it does not set or rise. It is heading for Polaris in late May. It is now at a magnitude 5.8 and barely visible in binoculars, but still a great sight in a modest telescope. It is now NNW around 332 degrees and about 5 degrees above the horizon. For those with a GOTO telescope, set your coordinates for 0h 26.8’ + 11d 44.4’

— Bill Logan is an expert solar observer and volunteer amateur astronomer with the University of Oregon’s Pine Mountain Observatory. He lives in Bend. Contact: blogan0821@gmail.com.