Posted by on Mar 29, 2024 in Main |

Comet 12p Pons-Brooks, Andromeda and Triangulum Galaxy and a touch of the Aurora while the village of Kirkgunzeon in Dumfries and Galloway sleeps.

By the end of April, there will be no planets to observe as Jupiter leaves the skies after brilliantly dominating the evening sky for the past eight months. To compensate three bright stars ride high this month, dominating the major constellations of the spring skies. Leading the way is Regulus in Leo, with Virgo’s leading star Spica to the lower left, with orange Artcurus in Bootes lying above. We are treated to a meteor display on the 21st, to 23rd. On the 10th of this month in the early evening sky a thin crescent Moon will make a lovely pairing up with the bright planet Jupiter. On the 12th of April Comet Pons-Brookes will be located below Jupiter with Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster all appearing in a vertical line. The night of the 20th April Sees Jupiter pass close to Uranus.

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).


It will not be possible to observe the inner most planet as it will be lost in the glare of the Sun.

The evening star is to close to the sun to been seen this month.

The red planet will be unfavourable for observation this month as it will be too close to the.

The gas giant is the very bright ‘star’ in the west after sunset. Shining more brilliantly than anything in the night sky at magnitude –2.0. Lying in the constellation of Aries, Jupiter is falling below the horizon around 10pm. The crescent Moon forms a stunning duo with Jupiter on 10th April. This month will be the last chance this year to observe the gas giant and its four major moons in the evening sky. By the end of the month Jupiter will be disappearing into the evening twilight.

The ringworld will be too close to the Sun for observation this month.

Located in the constellation of Aries, it will be falling below the horizon around 10pm with a faint magnitude of +5.9. At the start of the month it can be found to the upper left of Jupiter, but the giant planet is creeping upwards and passes to the left of Uranus on 20th April; just 30 arcminutes away and 1500 times brighter. If you have a good pair of binoculars or a low power telescope you can catch the conjunction. Uranus then sinks out of sight.

The outer most planet will be too close to the Sun for observation this month.

Located low down in the south west in the constellation of Capricornus. At magnitude +14.5, this distance world rises at 2.50 am and will be visible until sunrise.

The largest object in the asteroid belt can be located in the constellation of Sagittarius this month, at magnitude +8.6. Ceres rises above the horizon just after 2am.

Meteor Showers :-

On the night of the 22nd and into the 23rd of April will be the maximum of the Lyrid meteor shower. This year unfortunately will be a wash our as they will coincide with a bright full Moon. These shooting stars appear to emanate from the constellation Lyra as debris from Comet Thatcher burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere and they often leave glowing trails of dust.

Special Events :-

8th April – A total eclipse of the Sun is visible from a narrow track across North America. Most regions of North and Central America will witness a partial eclipse. Ireland and the western regions of Scotland will see a partial solar eclipse just before sunset.

10th April – There will be a lovely sight in the early evening sky when the thin crescent Moon pairs up with the bright planet Jupiter.

12th April – the Comet Pons-Brooks passes below Jupiter. Using a good pair of binoculars, check out the comet with Jupiter, Uranus and the Pleiades all appearing in a vertical Line.

15th April – The first quarter Moon is close to the twin stars Castor and Pollux.

18th April – The Moon is near to the star Regulus.

20th April – Jupiter has a close encounter with Uranus.

21st April – Comet Pons-Brooks reaches its maximum predicted brightness of magnitude +4.5 as it passes closest to the Sun. By the end of the month the comet disappears into the twilight glow.

22nd April – The almost full Moon is near the star Spica.

26th April – The almost full Moon is near to the star Antares.

Phases of the Moon for April:-

Last quarter 2nd April

New Moon 8th April

First quarter 15th April

Full Moon 23rd April