April 2022 Astronomical Highlights
The Visible Planets
Mercury becomes visible low along the west-northwest horizon by April 11. It gains elevation from day to day until it is at its greatest eastern elongation (21 degrees away from the Sun) on April 29 and is one of the best times this year to see Mercury from our northern hemisphere location. Look for Mercury near the Pleiades star cluster (M45) after sunset on nights of April 28, 29 and 30. This will make a great view though binoculars!
Venus is the brightest object seen low in the east-southeastern sky before sunrise this month. At the beginning of the month, Venus is seen alongside two other fainter planets Mars and Saturn, making a nice triangular conjunction of planets. On April 26 and 27, the waning crescent Moon joins Venus in the eastern sky and on April 30, Venus can be found close to the fainter planet Jupiter, low in the eastern sky before sunrise. On April 27, see if you can spot the planet Neptune between the bright planet Venus and the slightly fainter planet Jupiter. A telescope will be required.
Mars is found low in the east-southeastern sky before sunrise all month. It is the reddish-orange first magnitude point of light to the south of the bright planet Venus. Mars is also seen near the cream coloured and similar in brightness planet, Saturn. On April 11, Mars moves from the zodiac constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat, into the adjacent zodiac constellation of Aquarius, the water bearer, and traverses that constellation for the rest of the month. Look for the waning crescent Moon below and near Mars in the predawn hours on April 25 and 26.
Jupiter is found low in the eastern sky, slowly emerging out of the glare of the rising Sun, by the second week of the month. It starts the month in the constellation of Aquarius, the water bearer, but moves into the adjacent zodiac constellation of Pisces, the fish, after April 13. A close conjunction of Jupiter with the distant planet Neptune takes place in the predawn hours of April 12. Binoculars or a telescope will be required to get a sight of these two together, but the brightening sky may make viewing Neptune difficult. On April 27, look for the waning crescent Moon just below Jupiter along the eastern horizon before sunrise, and on April 30 and May 1, look for Jupiter near the brighter planet Venus in the predawn eastern sky. On April 30, Jupiter and Venus will be a mere 23 minutes of arc from one another making for a nice binocular or telescope view of the two together.
Saturn starts the month visible low in the east-southeastern sky in the predawn hours. It is flanked by Venus just to the north and Mars slightly southward, on April 1, making a wonderful conjunction of three planets on that date. Saturn is in the tail end of the zodiac constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat, and remains in that constellation all month. In the predawn hours of April 24, look for Saturn just above the waning crescent Moon.
April 1 New Moon
April 9 First Quarter Moon
April 16 Full Moon (Pink Moon)
April 23 Last Quarter Moon
April 30 New Moon
International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes
Look for passes of the ISS low in the southern sky in the early predawn sky starting on April 26. Exact times of these passages for your location can be found by visiting http://www.heavens-above.com or by using satellite tracking smart phone apps like Sputnik.
April 1 Nice conjunction of Venus, Mars and Saturn low in the east-southeastern sky before sunrise.
April 2 Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins tonight!
April 8 SpaceX launch of Ax-1, first private flight to the ISS
April 11 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Edmonton Centre meeting
Virtual Zoom meeting. Free for anyone to attend.
See http://www.edmontonrasc.com for more details.
April 12 Close conjunction of Jupiter with the planet Neptune.
April 15 Good Friday
April 16-27 Apollo 16 launch April 16, 1972, 50th Anniversary of second last manned Apollo flight.
Commander John Young, Command Module Pilot Thomas Mattingly II and Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke
April 17 Easter Sunday
April 20/21 Comet C/2021 O3 (PanSTARRS) at perihelion
April 22 The Lyrid meteor shower peaks (Zenith hourly rate of only 18)
April 23 Hubble Space Telescope launched 32 years ago today.
April 27 Close conjunction of Venus with Neptune
April 30 Partial solar eclipse visible from southern portion of South America.
Conjunction of Jupiter with the planet Venus (23 minutes of arc separation)
Comet C/2021 O3 (PanSTARRS) may start to become visible low in the northwestern sky after sunset.