As April begins, the Sun is in the constellation of Pisces, but crosses the border into Aries at around 07h00 the 19th.
The Moon is at apogee, the furthest from
the Earth, on April 1st at 00h, and again on the 28th and 18h00.
Perigee, its nearest to the Earth, is at around 22h00 on the 16th.
April’s New Moon is on the 5th at 08h51, in the constellation of Cetus, as it passes 5° south of the Sun.
On the 12th at 19h06 the Moon is at First Quarter, in Gemini, beneath Castor and Pollux, and is one of the highest
FQ moons of the year.
Full Moonis on the 19th at 11h13 and may be seen in eastern
Virgo, approaching the Libran border. This is the Paschal Full Moon, being the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox, as fixed by the Synod of Whitby in 664A.D. when the synod decided to follow the Western Christian Tradition.
Last Quarter Moon is at 22h19 on the 26th in Capricornus.
Look for Earthshine’s faint illumination of the night hemisphere at the time of the waxing crescent Moon on the 6th to the 11th,
and the waning crescent on the last three days of the month. A final chance to see the evening cone of the Zodiacal Light occurs on fine evenings during the first six days of April, although increasing twilight as the month progresses, and the presence
of the Moon begin to interfere.
Its appearance is of a cone of pale light of less intensity than that of the Milky Way rising up from the western sky at an angle of 60° towards the south. It is
caused by the Sun back-lighting the disc of fine particles surrounding the Sun in the inner solar system; all that remains of the accretion disc which formed the planets 4.5 million years ago.
Although Mercury reaches greatest western elongation (28°) and the 11th, the planet’s low altitude in the eastern sky before sunrise, prevents
the planet from being seen this month and for most of next month also.
Venus may be observed for a brief period in the morning sky before the Sun rises. Binoculars will enable you to locate it in the very bright twilight of the eastern sky. If using binoculars, however, when scanning the eastern horizon
for Venus, beware of the Sun rising; do not look at the Sun! Even a quick glimpse of it through binoculars can damage your eyes!
Throughout April, Mars continues to climb in the western sky. At the beginning of the month it lies in the vicinity of the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) in Taurus. Mars has faded to magnitude +1.45
and so is slightly fainter than Aldebaran (mag. +0.9), the brightest star in Taurus, several degrees to the east (left) at the beginning of the month. On the 20th, Mars passes 7° to the north of Aldebaran, and you might like to try to see the
slight colour contrast between the orange glow of Aldebaran and the slightly redder colour of Mars. Remember Mars is the fainter of the two objects. Look in the WNW at 21h on 20th. On the evening of the 8th, there is a pretty spectacle of the waxing
crescent Moon with earthshine lying 8° below Mars. The planet shines at magnitude +1.5 on this day, and at the time lies midway between the Pleiades and Aldebaran in Taurus. During April Mars sets just before midnight all month.
By the end of April Jupiter rises before astronomical midnight and so is visible in the morning sky before twilight hides the planet. Jupiter
is to be found amongst the stars of southern Ophiuchus and when it culminates in the south just before 05h in the brightening twilight, it lies just 12° above the southern horizon. On the morning of the 23rd the waning gibbous Moon may be seen
approaching Jupiter, and at 04h the Moon and Jupiter are separated by 4°, with Jupiter lying to the east of the Moon. Look for the Galilean moons through well-focused and firmly fixed binoculars as they change position night by night.
During April, Saturn lies some 25° to the east of the much brighter Jupiter (magnitude -2.3), Saturn’s magnitude being +1.1. Saturn
rises in the SE at around 03h as April begins, and two hours earlier by the month’s end. Although still at a low declination in the constellation of Sagittarius, the northern surface of the planet’s rings is a beautiful sight in a small telescope.
On the morning of the 25th, the waning Moon almost at last quarter, may be seen approaching Saturn low in the southern sky in the brightening twilight, with Saturn lying 5° to the east of the gibbous Moon at the time. Saturn’s largest moon Titan
is at greatest western elongation to Saturn, (approximately 2 mins. of arc) on the 6th and 22nd, and greatest eastern elongation on the 14th and 30th.
Uranus, on the Aries/Pisces border, is in conjunction with the Sun on the 22nd, and so is not favourably placed for observation
during April. Similarly, although Neptune in Aquarius, has returned to the early morning sky, it lies at an altitude unfavourable for observation in the bright twilight.
Conditions are unfavourable for the Lyrids this year due to a bright waning gibbous Moon. Look for Lyrids during the early mornings of the 22nd and the 23rd.
The maximum number of meteors per hour is 15, and they seem to radiate from an area near Vega, the second brightest star in the northern sky.
The Lyrid meteor shower is associated with Thatcher’s
Comet discovered in 1861.
Constellations visible in the south around midnight, mid-month, are as follows: The eastern part of Hydra,
Corvus the Crow, Virgo, Boötes and Coma Berenices. The Plough, in the constellation of Ursa Major, is still near the zenith.
All times are GMT 1° is one finger
width at arm’s length.
The phenomena of the month : April 2019
Times are given in UT for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 0" W, 54° 16' 3" N, zone 0
Date Hour Description of the phenomenon
yyyy mm dd hh:mm
2019 04 01 00:14 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 405577 km)
2019 04 02 11:37 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
02 11:59 Close encounter between Mercury and Neptune (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.4°)
2019 04 02 16:16 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 04 02
17:51 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2019 04 05 08:26 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 04 05 08:50 NEW MOON
2019 04 05 09:15 Opposition of the asteroid 7 Iris with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.824 AU; magn. = 9.4)
2019 04 05 20:47 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
04 08 01:03 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 04 08 05:15 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 04 09 22:05 Maximum of the variable star eta
2019 04 10 01:10 Opposition of the asteroid 2 Pallas with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.537 AU; magn. = 7.9)
2019 04 10 06:04 Close encounter between Venus and Neptune
(topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.3°)
2019 04 10 08:00 Mercury at its aphelion (distance to the Sun = 0.46670 AU)
2019 04 10 12:57 Maximum of the variable star
2019 04 11 02:04 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 04 11 18:00 GREATEST WESTERN ELONGATION of Mercury (27.6°)
2019 04 12 19:06 FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2019 04 13 09:51 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 04 13 20:35 Close encounter between the Moon and M 44 (topocentric
dist. centre to centre = 0.8°)
2019 04 13 22:53 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 04 16 02:33 Beginning of occultation of 53 Leo (magn. = 5.32)
2019 04 16 19:43 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 04 16 22:02 Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 364205 km)
17 02:19 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2019 04 18 02:00 Venus at its aphelion (distance to the Sun = 0.72820 AU)
2019 04 18 18:38 Maximum of the variable star
2019 04 18 19:21 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2019 04 19 11:12 FULL MOON
2019 04 19 16:32 Minimum of the
variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 04 20 04:32 Opposition of the asteroid 405 Thia with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 1.960 AU; magn. = 10.5)
2019 04 20 16:34 Maximum of
the variable star zeta Gemini
2019 04 21 00:00 EASTER DAY
2019 04 22 13:21 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
04 22 19:30 Meteor shower : Lyrids (18 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 9.0 days)
2019 04 22 23:07 CONJUNCTION between Uranus and the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.5°)
2019 04 24 01:02 Close encounter between the Moon and M 8 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.8°)
2019 04 24 03:25 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
04 24 06:32 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2019 04 24 16:18 Opposition of the asteroid 44 Nysa with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.428 AU; magn. = 9.9)
2019 04 25
10:10 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 04 26 22:18 LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2019 04 28 06:59 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 04 28 18:20 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 404582 km)
2019 04 29 12:13 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 04 30 20:11
Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
(Using Coelix Software)