April is the beginning of the season of the planets. Jupiter gets higher in the sky and Saturn and Mars start making an appearance. It’s also the month where we can start to fully appreciate the Milky Way as the Galactic Centre begins to rise.
Next week, Mars and Jupiter are better positioned in the early morning, before dawn, to get some good views and it might be the last chance to see Mercury for a while. With the moon taking a break the opportunity exists for some great views of some of the more fainter objects.
Out I went and nothing prepared me for what I saw that night. On the pitch dark sky of Wairarapa, with luscious hills that hold the horizon in sweet curves that rest the eye, a luminous whirlpool of stars was erupting from the east. Silver river of stars, one of its arms was meandering the eastern horizon in oval arched loops like an octopus's arm that passed a Southern Cross marking the 12 o'clock position on the celestial time keeper of the south. The galactic arm was thinning down towards the western horizon and righteously so as the further we go from Scorpius and Sagittarius, we are actually looking towards the outskirts of our galaxy, where fewer stars venture. I stood there in silence watching the slow rising of the Galaxy and I realised that it was for the first time in my life when I was truly seeing it with my eyes.
In Maori, tahi, rua, toru means one, two, three. So Atu-tahi - One, Taku-rua - Two, Tau-toru - Three,
or you can count Sirius (1) / Canopus (2) / Alpha Centauri (3) / Arcturus (4) No matter what you prefer, these stars will be there in the evening of May.