I think we are in for a real treat this month. We have the first full supermoon of the year, on the 27th; the planet Venus at its most brilliant in the second half of the month and a display of shooting stars.
April also sees the seasonal change from winter constellations to spring constellations is more or less complete.
The Plough is practically overhead, with the ‘W’ of Cassiopeia is at its lowest. The stars Vega and Deneb, which form two thirds of the summer triangle, are rising in the northeast although they have yet to become prominent.
The main spring stars can now easily be found. In the south is the constellation Leo (the Lion), which looks like a giant backwards question mark, and at its base is the bright star Regulus. To find Regulus use the two pointers in the plough and rather than drawing a line to the North Star, go in the opposite direction.
The plough can also help us find two other bright stars in the spring sky. Using the handle of the Plough draw a curve round and down. This line will reach the bright orange star Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes (the Herdsman). If the line is continued further it will reach the bright blue-white star Spica in the constellation of Virgo (the Virgin).
MARS. The red planet hangs on in the evening sky, at magnitude +1.4. Mars starts the month in the constellation of Taurus and ends the month in Gemini. It falls below the horizon around 1.30am.
URANUS. Faint Uranus at magnitude +1.4 can be found in the constellation of Aries and will be setting about 9pm.
VENUS. In the latter half of this month, Venus roars into view after sunset. The evening star will be low in the west, at magnitude –3.9. It will be dropping from view at 9.15pm by the end of April.
MERCURY. Travelling through the sky with its planetary neighbour will be the innermost planet. Located just to the right of Venus on the 25th of the month. Shinning with a magnitude of –1.6. Mercury rises above Venus and fades slightly to magnitude –1.1 by the months end.
JUPITER. Around 4.30am Jupiter rises above the horizon. Located in the constellation of Capricornus, it shines bright at magnitude –2.1.
SATURN. The ring world rises around the same time as Jupiter. As located in the constellation of Capricornus at a fainter magnitude of +0.7.
NEPTUNE. Dim Neptune appears from the morning twilight towards the end of the month. With a magnitude of +7.9 it rises above the horizon around 4.30am. Located in the constellation of Aquarius.
PLUTO. Can be found in the constellation of Sagittarius. It will always be low down and only visible in a ten-inch or larger telescope in a truly dark sky from around 2.25am, at magnitude +14.4.
CERES. The largest object in the asteroid belt can be located between the constellations of Pisces and Cetus this month. With a magnitude of +8.98, it rises above the horizon around 5.43am.
The first major meteor shower since January can be seen this month. The April Lyrids occur on the night of April 21st/22nd when about 10 meteors per hour can be seen. The Lyrids are so named because they appear to come from the constellation of Lyra (the Lyre). The meteors are tiny grains of dust left over from comet Thatcher 1861, as they burn up in the Earths atmosphere.
Phases of the Moon for April:-
Last Quarter 4th April
New Moon 12th April
First Quarter 20th April
Full Moon 27th April