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The April Night Sky

The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.

 Astronomy Picture of the Day

See below Hubble site Tonight's Sky, highlights of this months night sky movie with narration below. Click on photo below.

The Full Moon for April

 The Full Pink Moon – April This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

Lunar Phases

First Quarter Moon April 7 4:31 am EDT
Full Moon April 15 3:42 am EDT
Last Quarter Moon April 22 3:52 am EDT
New Moon April 29 2:14 am EDT

April  Lunar Highlights

 A thin waning crescent is a few degrees above Venus on the 25th. 

The Planets Visibility for April


Morning sky ESE

Mercury is close to the Sun to observe.


Morning sky ESE

 Venus Shines brightly in the April morning sky rising at 4:34 a,m,. Venus at later days of month is at -4.1 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.18" at phase 65.00. Venus is located in the constellation Aquarius moving into Pisces on the 28th. On April 25 in the eastern morning sky, a thin crescent Moon is 6.27° degrees above Venus, see below.


Evening sky ESE

Mars on the 26th is at -1.2 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.15" at phase 98.31. Mars rises at 5:45 p.m on the 26th and is located in the constellation Virgo. Mars is best viewed when it is higher in the sky, look for it's reddish glow. Mars is at its closest to Earth in six years. Below images shows Mars above the bright star Spica and the full Moon.

To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.


 evening sky W

Jupiter on the 26th is at -2.1 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.36" located in the constellation Gemini  easily visible after sunset high in the western sky and sets at 1:20 a.m. Jupiter is the brightest object in the evening sky other than the Moon.

A small telescope will easily reveal four of Jupiter's largest and brightest moons. Check out Sky & Telescope's Jupiter Moons Utility for other configurations. Sky and Telescope Red Spot Calculator  


Evening Sky

Saturn on the 26th is at magnitude 0.1 and diameter 00'.19" rising 8:55 p.m. midmonth located in the constellation Libra. Through a small telescope Saturn will reveal the famous rings of the planet. Rings currently are 21.9 tilt. See: Saturn's moons locations


Lost in glare of the Sun

 Uranus at midmonth is too close to Sun to be observed this month located in the constellation Pisces A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See finder charts: Sky & Telescope


Morning ESE

Neptune on the 26th is at 7.9 magnitude and diameter 00'.02" rising 3:56 a.m. and is located in the constellation Aquarius. Neptune location is shown in graphic below. See finder charts: Sky & Telescope

Bright Asteroids

On midmonth asteroid Vesta is at magnitude 5.8 and Asteroid Ceres  at magnitude 7.0 and are only 02°27'58" from each other. The asteroids are at opposition. The two asteroids are located in Virgo with both rising around 7:09 p.m.. They are both visible in binoculars See 2014 pdf finder charts: Chart

Dwarf Planets


 Pluto at midmonth rises midmonth at 12:56 a.m.. Pluto is at magnitude +14.1, amid the stars of the Milky Way of the constellation Sagittarius. A large telescope is needed to see this distant object.


C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) is in outburst now April 23rd at 8.3 magnitude located in the southeastern morning sky in the constellation Capricornus rising at 2:44 a.m. Best viewed 4 to 5 a.m.

For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.


The Lyrid meteors peak on April 21/22. Unfortunately, the Last Quarter Moon rises at 2:06 a.m. on the 22nd. So it is best to observe from 11 till around 2 to see the fainter meteors as the light from the Moon will prevent all but the brightest meteors from being seen. See graphic below showing the location of the constellation Lyra and the Lyrids radiant for 11 p.m.. The constellation Lyra will be highest in the sky before dawn, The higher in the sky the radiant is means less atmosphere to look through. Meteors are swifter and brighter in the early a.m. hours as the Earth is running headlong into the meteors. Face NE and look for the bright star Vega and the trapezoid of Lyra. Look for 15 meteors per hour. It is possible there could be higher rates. the meteor shower can sometimes experience an outburst of about 100 meteors per hour.

See: American Meteor Society and Meteors Online also NASA All Sky Network

Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.

Satellites Visible from York

Satellites visible from Hanover

Satellites visible from Gettysburg

Satellites visible from Lancaster

Satellites visible from Baltimore

Satellites visible from Harrisburg

Also see: Spaceflight NASA

 The Sun

Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.

 If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND

See explanation of  solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials

Solar Wind Dials


Use your hand to find degrees

NASA Night Sky Network Planner

Free download. AstroPlanner  

Download a free starmap at: Skymaps

Make your own starmap at: Star Finder

Download a free Planetarium for your computer at: Stellarium or Hallo Northern Sky Stellarium has many extra features.

Your Sky - Fourmilab

Your night sky map on the internet

Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart Register to use.

Sky Map