A total lunar eclipse is well positioned for all the United States in April, but most people will have to set their alarms for the middle of the night to see it. The moon passes into the shadow of Earth and takes on a reddish hue overnight from April 14 to 15. The far northeastern US will see the eclipse at moonset, but for the rest of the continental US, the whole eclipse is visible. The partial phase, as our shadow begins to cover up the brightness of the full moon and then gives it back, lasts for about an hour on either side of the total phase. Totality for the Central time zone begins at 2:07 a.m. CDT and ends at 3:25 a.m. CDT, and for Mountain time is from 1:07 a.m. to 2:25 a.m. Pacific time has to wait until just after midnight, from 12:07 a.m. to 1:25 a.m. The moon officially reaches full phase during the eclipse on April 15 at 2:42 a.m. CDT.
An annular solar eclipse follows a few weeks later, on April 29; however, as it occurs over Antarctica, it will go largely unseen by humans.
With the return of spring, constellations such as Virgo have taken center stage. Fortunately, Virgo has a lot of action for stargazers this month. The reddish planet Mars is close to Virgo’s brightest star, Spica. Mars shines more brightly at magnitude -1.5. The Red Planet reaches opposition on April 8, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise.