The April Night Sky.

April sky18

New Moon: 16th April, Full Moon: 30th April.

This month Mercury is a morning object; it rises a little before dawn and will be difficult to see as it is low to the horizon. On the 14th the waning crescent moon is to the south of the planet.

Venus is a lovely object in the evening sky; it shines at a brilliant magnitude of -3.8 and is well placed for observing not setting until after 22h. The day old moon passes Venus on the 17th.

The red planet Mars rises just before 03h mid-month and is fairly low down in the sky in Sagittarius. The ringed planet Saturn and Mars make a lovely close pairing on the 2nd Mars will be to the south in a sight visible to the naked eye. On the 7th the moon passes close by both planets and should also make for a lovely sight.

Jupiter rises before 22h and is visible all night long. Although not terribly high in the sky it will make for an excellent object to look at. It shines at magnitude -2.4 in the feint constellation of Libra. The moon passes by twice this month on the 3rd. and the 30th.

First magnitude Saturn, like Mars, is to be found in Sagittarius as an early morning object. On the second these two planets can be found very close to each other. On the 7th. Saturn is below the moon, so will help find the ringed planet. It becomes easier to see as the month progresses as it rises earlier and earlier than the Sun. An interesting bit of celestial mechanics occurs on the 17th, when Saturn reaches aphelion; this is the furthest point in a planet’s orbit from the sun. Unlike the Earth which reaches aphelion once a year (in the northern hemisphere winter) Saturn only reaches aphelion every 29 and a half years.

Published in: on April 2, 2018 at 12:02  Leave a Comment