Updated: Mar 31
April will be a busy month for sky watchers offering planet views, galaxies galore, meteor showers, and even a Pink Supermoon! Hopefully the weather will cooperate for clear viewing.
Spot Saturn in the southeast sky about an hour or two before dawn. Appearing pale yellow in color, the ringed planet will be positioned just above the waning crescent moon and to the left. This will be the first chance this year to get a good look at the planet with your telescope or binoculars until later this summer.
See Jupiter low in the southeast sky just below the moon, two hours before dawn. Through a telescope, you may even see the planet’s moons eclipsing and occulting each other.
The New Moon offers the darkest skies for viewing star clusters and galaxies this month. If you’re living in the northern hemisphere, look for the Cigar Galaxy, the Pinwheel Galaxy, the Owl Nebula and more this April.
Constellations visible to the northern hemi this month include Leo, Leo Minor, Hydra, Antila, Chamaeleon, Crater, Sextans & Ursa Major. See this handy Constellation Guide for more information.
Appearing bright orange, Mars will still be visible high in the western sky after dusk. Get a peek now before the view diminishes by the end of the month.
April 22nd & 23rd
Lyrids Meteor Shower will begin on April 16th and continue through the 25th this year. Considered an average meteor shower, the Lyrids will peak on the night of April 22nd and morning of April 23rd at a rate of 20 meteors per hour. Meteors can be viewed anywhere in the sky, but they will be best observed from a dark location after midnight.
Mercury will be visible with the naked eye and look even cooler through a set of binoculars. Look for what appears to be the brightest star low in the southwest sky right after the sun sets.
At 10:30pm EST view the first of 3 Supermoons this year. Referred to as the ‘Pink Moon’ by Native Americans as it’s the time of year the wildflowers bloom, a supermoon appears larger and brighter than other full moons because it occurs when its orbit is nearest to the Earth.
International Space Station:
2 Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut are set to launch in a Russian Soyuz capsule and dock with the International Space Station about 3 hours after.
Three crew from the International Space Station will be returning to Earth on the Russian Soyuz capsule.
4 astronauts from SpaceX’s Dragon flight will be launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin their 6 month mission on the International Space Station.
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Constellation Guide, 2021, April Constellations, https://www.constellation-guide.com/constellations-by-month/april-constellations/
The Sky, 2021, Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events for Calendar Year 2021, http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2021.html
Clark, Stephen, March 2, 2021, Boeing’s next starliner flight delayed after SpaceX crew rotation, https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/03/02/boeings-next-starliner-test-flight-delayed-after-spacex-crew-rotation/
Farmers’ Almanac, 2021, Look Up At The Night Sky (2021), https://www.farmersalmanac.com/night-sky-visible-planets-april
Time and Date, 2021, Moon Phases 2021 – Lunar Calendar for Detroit, Michigan, USA, https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/usa/detroit