Night sky in April 2017 – southern hemisphere

Highlights: Venus in morning sky. Jupiter and Saturn on view.

skymap thumbnailWelcome to Skymania’s guide to the night sky in April, 2017. You will find a map of the whole visible sky, which can be adjusted for any time and date, plus information on the position of the planets, phases of the Moon, and notable astronomical events to watch out for. (To open the sky map in a separate window, click here.)

For the night sky in the northern hemisphere, click here.

The sky in April 2017

Summary: Venus has now moved into the morning sky and rapidly draws away from the Sun. Jupiter now rises in the early evening, with Saturn rising later in the night.

The planets

mercurythmMercury may be found low in the west after sunset in the first week of April if you have a clear, unobstructed horizon. But it sinks rapidly back to reach inferior conjunction on the 19th, when it will lie between us and the Sun.

venusthmVenus moved into the morning sky at the end of March and now climbs rapidly above the eastern horizon as the month progresses. Through a telescope it will appear as a fine crescent. The planet shines at a brilliant -4.7 magnitude by the month’s end.

marsthmMars is still hanging on in the evening sky, shining like a bright star. The planet is receding on the far side of the Sun now and its brightness fades from magnitude 1.3 to 1.5 during the month.

jupiterthmJupiter, the biggest planet in the Solar System, is very well placed, rising in the mid evening. Find it in the constellation of Virgo, not far from its brightest star, Spica, using our helpful guide. The planet shines at around -2.5, making it the brightest object in the sky after the Moon and Venus. A small telescope will reveal the planet’s belts and bands as well as the four main moons, known as the Galilean satellites, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

saturnthmSaturn lies in the morning sky this month, rising in the late evening at the beginning of April but two hours earlier by month’s end. To the naked eye, it resembles a bright yellow star at magnitude 0.5. A small telescope will show its rings are wide open, making it an attractive sight.

uranus_thmUranus has been lost to view in the evening twilight.

neptune_thmNeptune the last of the eight worlds recognised as planets in our Solar System, is in the morning sky, but lost in pre-dawn twilight.

The Moon

The Moon always makes a great target for a small telescope, which come into view as its phases change. We’ve a guide to where to find 50 of the best lunar features, plus a checklist to download so you can tick them off as you spot them! Don’t have a telescope? Here’s our guide to choosing one.

Phases of the Moon

Phase First Quarter: Apr 3
Full Moon: Apr 11
Last Quarter: Apr 19
New Moon: Apr 26
Image courtesy U.S.N.O.
Fifty fantastic features – our amazing Moon

moon_in_relief_thmHere’s our guide to observing some of the finest sights on the Moon with small telescopes. Click here for pages of charts that will help you find interesting features to seek out yourself, including craters, lava flows, mountain ranges and deep chasms!

If you want to check out the sky as seen from the northern hemisphere, click here.