This month’s highlights:
- Saturn in the evening sky
- The 2011 Lyrid Meteor Shower
- Four Planets and a Crescent Moon in the morning sky
|Date||Event||Time (in PHT, UT+8)|
|5||Saturn at Opposition
— The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons.
|6||Jupiter in conjunction with the Sun||23:00|
|10||Mercury in inferior conjunction||04:00|
|11||First Quarter Moon||20:05|
|17||Moon at perigee (nearest distance to Earth)||14:00|
|21-22||Lyrid Meteor Shower*
— The Lyrids are an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The shower usually peaks on April 21 & 22, although some meteors can be visible from April 16 – 25. This year, the gibbous moon will hide most of the fainter meteors in its glare. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight, and be sure to find a dark viewing location far from city lights.
|22||Mercury-Venus-Mars-Jupiter visual alignment
— Visible from April 25 to May 30
|23||Venus at Uranus at minimum separation (0.9 degrees)||dusk|
|25||Last Quarter Moon||10:45|
|27||Neptune 6 degrees south of the Moon||21:00|
|29||Four Planets and Crescent Moon in the morning sky
— On the last two mornings of the month, given a clear low eastern horizon, there will be four planets and a thin crescent Moon visible just above. You will need binoculars, so cease looking when the Sun has risen.
|31||Moon at apogee (farthest distance to Earth)||02:00|
*Check out the following links for more info:
- Lyrids Meteor Shower – AstronomyLive.com
- Lyrids Watch 2011 – GAM 2011 Events
- Lyrids – Spacedex.com
- Lyrids – MeteorShowersOnline.com
Lyrids Quick Facts:
A video guide on finding the constellation Lyra:
HubbleSite – Tonight’s Sky: April 2011
Clear skies to all and happy observing! 🙂
Here is another rare planetary grouping that is hard to miss! 🙂
As soon as I came across this website shared by Daniel Fischer and read about the proximity of Venus and Jupiter to each other on May 2011, I immediately ran my Stellarium software and simulated planetary positions throughout that month.
I got excited when I saw the nice planetary grouping of Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Mercury (you can add Uranus and Neptune to your count if you have binoculars or a small telescope) with the thin waning crescent Moon during the predawn hours of May 1 and 2.
All of these celestial objects will lie just within the constellation Pisces, separated by only a few degrees from each other. 😀 This is a good opportunity to spot all these planets close together during one occasion.
In order to observe this, you must have a clear eastern horizon because they will appear very low in the sky. Also, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars to help you see these objects better and wake up early to avoid the glare of the sun.
Venus is, as always, the brightest and most visible of the planets, and it can be your guide to spotting the others. About half way between Venus and the rising sun is Jupiter, the second brightest planet.
Mars will be a tiny speck just above Jupiter, and Mercury another tiny speck about half way between Jupiter and Venus. Uranus is slightly more than one binocular field above and to the right of Venus, and Neptune is much farther to the right, about 40 degrees away in Aquarius.
The planetary grouping is visible from April 23 to May 30.
Astrologers have always been fascinated by planetary alignments, and the doomsayers of 2012 have been prophesying a mystical alignment on Dec. 21, 2012. They view planetary alignments as foretellers of disasters. Modern amateur astronomers look forward to them as nothing more than grand photo ops. In fact, the modern tools of astronomers, such as planetarium softwares, show otherwise: absolutely no alignment at any time in 2012.
Happy observing 😀