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Night sky this month – April


Highlights: Jupiter and Venus bright.

Here is a view of the night sky this month as seen from mid-northern latitudes such as London (51° 30′) in mid April, 2015, at 10pm (22h UT).

The planets in April 2015

Mercury is on the far side of the Sun on 10 April, so invisible, but then moves into the evening sky where you might spot it to the west after sunset towards the end of the month, shining at magnitude -1.4.

Venus shines brilliantly at mag -4 in the evening sky and can be spotted as it gets dark, like a bright beacon. Through a telescope it looks like a small gibbous moon.

Mars is finally leaving our skies as the Sun catches up with it and it sinks into the evening twilight. Find out more about Mars here including maps to show its position in the sky.

Jupiter is still well placed for northern hemisphere observers, being high in the constellation of Cancer, and shining from dusk for most of the night at magnitude -2.2. A small telescope will show the bands in its cloud tops and the four brightest moons.

Saturn rises in the late evening, but remains low in the constellation of Scorpius for northern observers. With a magnitude of +0.3, it is bright and easy to find. Even a small telescope will show its beautiful rings.

Lyrid meteor shower

The Lyrid meteors are debris that was shed by Comet Thatcher, and they put on generally a moderate display every year from 18-25 April, with a peak on the 23rd. The peak rate, if the radiant was in the zenith, would only be between 15-20 meteors an hour, though there have been greater bursts of activity in some years. Moonlight will not be a problem this year, since the Moon will be a four-day old crescent at maximum. For best rates, look between midnight and dawn.

Note: The sky will appear much the same from other cities at similar latitudes, such as New York, Paris and Berlin, at around 10pm local time. The sky appears the same at the start of the month an hour later and at the end of the month an hour earlier. We use Virtual Sky, a new, customizable, browser-based planetarium, courtesy of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Click on the date or location to the top left of the chart to view the sky at a different time or from another longitude and latitude. If you want to check out the sky as seen from the southern hemisphere, click here.