night sky

The April 2023 Night Sky

Welcome to the April night sky. This month, from April 15 to 22, is International Dark Sky Week. It is held during the dark of the Moon time and, when far from city lights, the night sky can be seen in all its glory.

On the 22nd, we will have the Lyrid meteor shower that is dust left over from the tail of comet Thatcher, which has a 415-year orbit. This comet has been known since 687 BC. The night of the 5th until the morning of the 6th is the peak Eta Aquarids, which is dust from comet Halley.

During the daylight hours on April 20, we have a total solar eclipse, but it is not visible from Europe.

The next total eclipse will be on October 14, 2023, visible from north and central America.

Soon after nightfall in April, the bright star called Sirius will be seen setting in the southwest and due south the zodiacal constellation of Leo will be seen high up in the sky with its bright star Regulus well visible. Over in the southeast, the constellation of Virgo will be seen rising with its bright star called Spica also well visible.

The planet Venus is still a brilliant evening object, high in the west, and now setting several hours after sunset.

The red planet Mars is an evening object, but it is getting quite faint this month.

The gas giant planet Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun on the 11th, so it is not currently visible.

The ringed planet Saturn is now a morning object, but it is not well seen in April.

Space X is still trying to launch its super heavy rocket sometime in April, but Elon Musk only gives it 50% chance of success. I suspect there will be several spectacular explosions before the required reliability is achieved.

The April full Moon is the spring full Moon that marks the countdown to Easter as Easter is the next Sunday after this full Moon.

The Moon is full on the 6th, last quarter on the 13th, new on the 20st, first quarter on April 27.

By Clive Jackson
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Clive Jackson is the director of the Camera Obscura – Tavira EYE attraction, located near the Castle of Tavira. Specialising in education and public outreach.
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To see the April Sky Map click on the pdf link below

2023-04 April nightsky