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Ringed world renaissance

April 2012: Saturn and Mars dominate the April sky nearly all night.
RELATED TOPICS: PLANETARY OBSERVING | SATURN | MARS | JUPITER | VENUS
Saturnsrings
Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2007, giving observers great views through small telescopes. NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Saturn and Mars dominate the April sky nearly all night. Saturn reaches opposition and peak visibility in mid-April, a position Mars attained just last month. Saturn lies in Virgo while Mars resides one constellation to the west in Leo. These two spectacular planets aren’t alone, however. The early evening sky features both Venus and Jupiter, which seem to ­herald the gorgeous planetary views later on. Venus stands out in particular, shining brightest this month and skimming the southern edge of the beautiful Pleiades star cluster.

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