April 2022

Venus, Saturn, and Mars are in a dawn lineup as April begins. The red and ringed planets are in the east side of Capricornus. For northern hemisphere watchers, that’s on the left. From south of the equator, it’s the bottom of the constellation. Venus is between Capricornus and Aquarius. Observers in the low northern latitudes and nearly anywhere south of the equator can easily see Jupiter rising closer to sunrise. The view of the big planet is easier from middle and high northern latitudes by mid-month.

All four of these planets are moving directly, that is, eastward of the stars behind them. Venus is solidly in Aquarius by the 11th. Mars and Saturn are on their way there. Jupiter is heading to a still hard-to-see Pisces.

On the 23rd, Saturn is still in Capricornus by the star Deneb Algedi. Mars is now solidly in Aquarius. And Venus is nearly caught up to Jupiter.

A waning crescent moon adds to the splendor toward the end of April. It’s west of Saturn on the morning of the 24th. It’s approaching Mars the next morning and Venus the morning after that. The moon’s close to Jupiter on the 27th. By that morning, Venus is also very close to Jupiter. The moon is below them all on the 28th. Jupiter and Venus are closest on the 30th.

In our evening sky, see the moon in Taurus on the 4th and 5th. It will be close to the Pleiades one night and the Hyades the next. It’ll be at first quarter in the heart of Gemini on the 8th. It’s almost full at the belly of Leo on the 12th. It will be full in Virgo.

Mercury is an evening object most easily seen in the second half of April. It’s at perihelion on the 13th at 0.308 astronomical units. It’s visually close to Uranus around the 17th. The planet reaches greatest elongation on the 29th at 20.6° east of the sun. It’ll pass by the Pleiades on the 30th.

Moon phases: new on the 1st, first quarter on the 9th, full on the 16th, last quarter on the 23rd, new again on the 30th.

The moon’s crossing the equator northward on the 1st. Northern lunistice is on the 8th at 26.9°. The southward equatorial crossing is on the 15th. Southern lunistice is on the 21st at 26.9°. And another northward crossing is on the 28th.

Lunar apogee is on the 7th at 404,500 km. Perigee is on the 19th at 365,200 km.

The moon will cover up to 54% of the sun’s disk on Saturday, April 30th. Most of the eclipse happens over the southern Pacific Ocean. So if you happen to be on a cruise or one of the islands there, get your eye protection and enjoy the event on the afternoon of the 30th. The southern parts of South America get a sunset eclipse. Chile, Argentina, and parts of Bolivia and Paraguay get the best views of it. The internet will surely have some amazing photos that night of an orange, partially eclipsed sun sinking into an ocean horizon or going behind the Andes mountains.

The April Lyrids meteor shower should peak around the 22nd. The best views will be in the evening before a nearly last quarter moon rises. It’s mainly a northern hemisphere event because of how far north Lyra is. But you could see a Lyrid in places where Lyra isn’t visible. It’s just hard to trace it back to that point of origin. Some of this shower’s meteors produce bright fireballs.

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