Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.
|1||Tue||Jupiter at east quadrature|
|2||Wed||Uranus at superior conjunction|
|7||Mon||First Quarter Moon|
|8||Tue||Moon at apogee|
|Mars at opposition|
|13||Sun||4 Vesta at opposition|
|14||Mon||1 Ceres at opposition|
|15||Tue||Full Moon in a total lunar eclipse|
|17||Thu||Moon occults Saturn: visible from the southern Pacific Ocean and southern South America, and beginning around 05:10 UT.|
|22||Tue||The Last Quarter Moon will prevent dark-sky observing of the Lyrid meteor shower. The predicted peak of the shower should occur sometime between 10:00 UT and 21:00 UT.|
|23||Wed||Moon at perigee|
|The waning crescent Moon should not cause as many problems for observing the Pi-Puppid meteor shower. It is expected to peak around 23:00 UT, before moonrise.|
|26||Sat||Mercury at superior conjunction|
|29||Tue||New Moon in an annular solar eclipse|
The word planet is derived from the Greek word for 'wanderer'. Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies, including comets, are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.
The Sun and Moon take part in two eclipses this month. Most of North America, much of South America, New Zealand and most of the Pacific Ocean will see the complete total lunar eclipse on 15 April. Nearer the end of the month part of Antarctica will briefly witness an annular solar eclipse.
Never far from the Sun, this tiny planet is at superior conjunction on 26 April. However, earlier in the month it makes a fine spectacle for southern hemisphere observers, staying visible above the eastern horizon until very near conjunction. This ia a poor apparition for those in northern latitudes and Mercury is lost to view early in the month.
The morning star is best seen from the southern hemisphere, appearing very high in the eastern sky. It loses a little bit of altitude throughout the month but remains the brightest object in dawn skies.
At opposition on 8 April, the red planet is aloft all night for viewing.
1 Ceres Virgo
The largest body in the main asteroid belt, 1 Ceres reaches opposition on 14 April. Although it is at its brightest, it is only seventh magnitude so binoculars or a telescope will be necessary to see it.
4 Vesta Virgo
Although smaller than 1 Ceres, 4 Vesta can be seen by the naked eye with sufficiently dark skies. This sixth magnitude object reaches opposition on 13 April.
Quadrature is an excellent time to observe the gas giants as the interplay of shadows between the planets and their satellites is at its most pronounced. Jupiter reaches east quadrature on the first day of the month so look for it in early evening; it sets before midnight by the end of the month.
Many residents of South America will be treated to sight of Saturn disappearing behind the face of the Moon on 17 April. The ringed planet rises in early evening and is visible for the rest of the night.
At solar conjunction on the second day of the month, this ice giant is unobservable throughout April.
A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system. It should be far enough removed from the solar glare to be visible in the early morning hours.