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The April Night Sky

The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.

 Astronomy Picture of the Day

See below Hubble site Tonight's Sky, highlights of this months night sky movie with narration below. Click on photo below.

The Full Moon for April

 The Full Pink Moon – April. This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn. Courtesy Farmers Almanac.

Lunar Phases

Full Moon April 4 8:06 am EDT
Last Quarter Moon April 11 11:44 pm EDT
New Moon April 18 2:57 pm EDT
First Quarter Moon April 25 7:55 pm EDT

April  Lunar Highlights

There was a Total Lunar Eclipse on April 4, but only partial for east coast observers and is best visible for the western half of the U.S.

April 8th the Moon is 2° N. of Saturn before sunrise. April 15th the Moon and Neptune are 4° apart just before sunrise. April 21st the Moon is 7 ° to the right of Venus just after sunset. April 21st the Moon is about 3° above the bright star Aldebaran in the western horizon. April 26th the asteroid Juno is only 0°.1 N. from the Moon. April 26th the Moon and Jupiter are only 5°apart.

All times are EST

The Planets Visibility for April

Mercury

Lost in Glare of the Sun

 Mercury is too close to Sun to observe

Venus

Evening sky WNW

 Venus midmonth is at -4.1 magnitude, a diameter of 00°00'.15", a phase of 72.12% and located in the constellation Taurus. It is very prominent right after sunset above the west northwest horizon. Setting midmonth around 11:09 p.m..

Mars

Evening sky WNW

Mars midmonth is at +1.4 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.04" located in the constellation Aries and sets at 9:03 p.m.. Mars will be about 23 degrees below Venus midmonth, found low above the horizon just after sunset. To find Mars look for a reddish object low in the west northwest sky. To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.

JUPITER

 Evening sky S

Jupiter midmonth is at -2.3 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.40" located in the constellation Cancer visible after sunset high in the south. Jupiter sets around 3:58 a.m.. Jupiter is stationary April 8th. A small telescope will easily reveal four of Jupiter's largest and brightest moons. Check out Sky & Telescope's Jupiter Moons Utility for other configurations. Sky and Telescope Red Spot Calculator 

SATURN

  Evening-Morning sky S

Saturn midmonth is at +0.2 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.18" rising around 10:45 p.m. in the southeast. It will be highest in the sky in around 4:00 a.m. midmonth. Saturn is in the constellation Scorpius. Through a small telescope Saturn will reveal the famous rings of the planet. Rings currently are 24.8° tilt. See: Saturn's moons locations

URANUS

Evening Sky Lost in Sun's glare

 Uranus midmonth is in conjunction with Sun and is too close to Sun to observe until mid May morning sky. A small telescope will reveal this event. See below image: Uranus is located in the constellation Pisces. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

NEPTUNE 

Morning Sky ESE

Neptune midmonth  is at 7.9 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.02" rising around 4:45 a.m. in the east southeast. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a blue green disk. Neptune is located in the constellation Aquarius. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

Bright Asteroids

3 Juno

3 Juno at 8.2 magnitude is in the constellation Hydra.

Dwarf Planets

Pluto

 Pluto at midmonth is located amid the stars of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is at magnitude +14.2 and diameter 00°00'.00" rising at 1:50 a.m. A large telescope is needed to see this distant object.

COMETS

Comets Brighter than 8 Magnitude

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy is reported at 6.3 magnitude April. Visible sunset to sunrise now always above the horizon. The comet is in Cassiopeia.

For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.

METEOR SHOWERS

Lyrid's

The Lyrid's increase as they become active in April during April 18th through the 25th, with a maximum on the 22/23. Possible meteors per hour is around 7-10. The crescent Moon sets just after midnight, so there will be no interference from its light. The apparent direction the meteors come from, the radiant is in Lyra, the meteors can appear just about anywhere in the sky.  Meteors per hour is around 7-10.

See: Listen to Meteors , American Meteor Society, Meteors Online also NASA All Sky Network

Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.

Satellites Visible from York

Satellites visible from Hanover

Satellites visible from Gettysburg

Satellites visible from Lancaster

Satellites visible from Baltimore

Satellites visible from Harrisburg

Also see: Spaceflight NASA

 The Sun

Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.

 If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND

See explanation of  solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials

   

Use your hand to find degrees

NASA Night Sky Network Planner

Free download. AstroPlanner  

Download a free starmap at: Skymaps

Make your own starmap at: Star Finder

Download a free Planetarium for your computer at: Stellarium or Hallo Northern Sky Stellarium has many extra features.

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