Perfect Astronomy

Monthly star guide - What to see in April's Night Sky (2022)

Published April 1, 2022 by Tim Trott in News

What to see in April's night sky including Moon phases, planet guide, conjunctions, the Lyrid meteor shower and Deep Space Objects M3, M108 and M97.

April Moon Phases

Northern Native Americans call April's full moon the pink moon after a species of early blooming wildflower. In other cultures, this moon is called the sprouting grass moon, the egg moon, and the fish moon.

Full Moon and New Moon for April 2022

Last Quarter
Last Quarter
Thu 1st Jan
New Moon
New Moon
Fri 1st Apr
First Quarter
First Quarter
Sat 9th Apr
Full Moon
Full Moon
Sun 17th Apr

April Planets

Mercury is impressive in evenings, setting at least 2 hours after sunset by end of April.

Venus is always brilliant, shining with a steady, silvery light. Mornings in the eastern sky at dawn from early January through to mid-June.

Mars is visible in the night sky from January to mid-July, then shifts to the morning sky from mid Oct to the end of December.

Jupiter is will be visible in the mornings from January to May, evenings from May to November, and mornings again from mid-December to the end of December.

On April 30th Jupiter and Venus will be at their closest approach and visible in the same low powered telescopic field of view.

Saturn is visible in the mornings from late January to early July, then in the evenings from July to December.

April Meteor Showers

The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. It peaks this year on the night of the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd.

The radiant point for the Lyrid shower sits just to the right of Vega, which is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. Its from Vegas constellation Lyra that the Lyrid meteor shower takes its name.The radiant point for the Lyrid shower sits just to the right of Vega, which is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. Its from Vegas constellation Lyra that the Lyrid meteor shower takes its name.

April Deep Space Objects

The spring night skies are home to some wonderful globular clusters. M3 in Canes Venatici and M5 in Serpens are good targets for a small telescope and can also be glimpsed with binoculars from sites with dark skies.

Surfboard Galaxy (M108) is a barred spiral galaxy in Ursa Major. Even though it appears almost edge-on, M108 is a popular target among amateur astronomers and astrophotographers because details of its structure can be seen even in amateur telescopes. 3-inch telescopes will only reveal an elongated streak of light with a brighter core, while 8-inch instruments will hint at the galaxy’s dusty regions and bright and faint patches.

The Owl Nebula (M97) and Surfboard Galaxy (M108) in Ursa MajorThe Owl Nebula (M97) and Surfboard Galaxy (M108) in Ursa Major

The Owl Nebula (M97), is another famous object in Ursa Major. A planetary nebula forms when a dying Sun-like star ran out of hydrogen fuel, collapsed from a red giant to a white dwarf, and ejected its outer envelope. The expelled material is now heated by the radiation of the central white dwarf, producing the nebula's glow.

Also in Ursa Major, Bode's Galaxy (M81) and the Cigar Galaxy (M82) are a nice bright pair to track down.

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