The little planet Mercury is best seen from nearly 9 pm until 10.20 pm. Look in the constellation Aries low at the Western horizon, just before Sun set. The planet Venus is too close to the Sun and cannot been observed. The red planet Mars is best seen from nearly midnight until 5.40 am. The planet is in the constellation Ophiuchus. The giant planet Jupiter is best seen from 8.35 pm until 4.50 am in the constellation Leo. Saturn, the planet with the rings, is still low on the horizon and can be seen from 0.20 am until 5.20 am in the constellation Ophiuchus.
The Lyrids meteor shower is active from the 16th to the 25th of April. Its peak is on Friday 22nd April. It has an hourly rate of around 10 meteors per hour. However, the Full Moon will severely disturb the observations, with only the brightest meteors being visible.
Wednesday 20 April
The Moon moves through the constellation Virgo. It only gets its closest to the bright star Spica in the early morning. Spica will be about 5° South of the Moon. At 1.06 am the star called The Vir will disappear behind the dark side of the Moon. You will need a small telescope or a good binocular to watch. The Moon phase is 99% and is very bright. So do not look too long or do not look direct to the Moon as it will damage your eyes!
With a small telescope or a good steady binocular you can watch the surface and its Moons of the giant planet Jupiter. At 1.44 am the Great Red Spot will transit the disc of the giant planet Jupiter.
Satellites are easy to spot and to watch with the naked eye. They are like slow moving "stars" or "dots" in the night sky. Sometimes those satellites are getting brighter, or have a flare. We call them Iridium flares. At 4.06 am a very bright flare appears in the West at an altitude of 54° in the constellation Canes Venatici.
The meteors, called Lyrids are best seen from 9.40 pm to 4.25 am. Look in the direction of the constellation Hercules. The Lyrids are considered as rather rapid with a velocity of 48 km/s. Expect to see approximately 4 meteors an hour.
Thursday 21 April
The Moon is in apogee at 4.48 pm. The distance of the Moon to the Earth is 406355 km or 253972 miles. It is the point when the Moon is the furthest from the Earth and the day before Full Moon.
At 9.35 pm the Great Red Spot is in transit on the disc of the giant planet Jupiter.
A rather bright Iridium flare appears at 11.37 pm in the West South West at an altitude of 24° and in the constellation Cancer.
The Jupiter Moon Io disappears for an occultation behind the planet at 3.40 am.
The Lyrid meteor shower reaches its peak tonight. With a local maximum rate of about 7 an hour. It is a moderately strong shower but, but unfortunately, the Moon is full and its light may disturb for the fainter meteors. The constellation rises late in the evening and you’ll probably see more meteors in the early hours of the morning. The rather rapid velocity is 47.9 km/s.
The Moon is Full at 6.23 am. This is the 2nd smallest Full Moon of the next 10 years, and the smallest of the year. The former smaller Full Moon was on 5 March 2015. The next smaller Full Moon is on 9 June 2017. The waxing gibbous Moon lies near to the bright star Spica all night.
Friday 22 April
The actual meteor maximum of the April Lyrids is at 9 am, day time. Of course, due to daytime, to be watched early in the morning.
At 10 pm the planet Venus is in conjunction with Uranus. They are only 49' separated. Both planets are too close to the Sun and not visible.
An Iridium flare appears at 11.31 pm in the West South West at an altitude of 24° and in the constellation Cancer.
The Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit at 0.52 am and at 2.49 am its shadow crosses the giant planet Jupiter.
A rather bright Iridium flare appears at 2.34 am in the North West at an altitude of 20° in the constellation Lynx.
Back to Jupiter. At 3.07 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends its transit. At 3.11 am the Jupiter Moon Europa begins its transit. The Great Red Spot is in transit over the Jupiter disc at 3.22 am. At 4.04 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends its shadow transit.
This morning, the meteor shower April Lyrids will have a local hour rate of about 5.
Saturday 23 April
The International Space Station (ISS), if the orbit does not change too much due to extra boost corrections, will cross the disc of the Sun at 16.29 pm. You will need a good solar telescope to watch. The transit duration is only 0.69 seconds. Never look directly to the Sun unless you have a special solar telescope or you have special Solar filters. Sunglasses are not sufficient and you will damage your eyes instantly and very likely permanently!!!
At 10.07 pm the Jupiter Moon Io disappears for an occultation behind the planet. The Great Red Spot will transit the giant planet at 11.14 pm. And at 1.22 am the Jupiter Moon Io will end its transit.
The Moon is close to the bright star Zuben Elakrab at 4.40 am. The limb separation is only 0.35° or less than a lunar diameter. The altitude is 17° and the Moon phase is 97%.
Sunday 24 April
Not visible, but ISS is passing very close the little planet Mercury in the daytime sky at 3.37 pm. They are only 0.032° separated. So a boost correction might benefit and ISS will cross the planet. A good daytime and large telescope will be needed. The angular diameter of ISS is about 56" will Mercury is only 9".
The Jupiter Moon Io ends its transit at 9.34 pm. At 9.37 pm the Jupiter Moon Europa disappears for an occultation and at 10.33 pm the Jupiter Moon Io ends its shadow transit.
A very bright Iridium flare appears at 11.28 pm in the West at an altitude of 22° in the constellation Canis Minor.
At 2.18 am the Jupiter Moon Europa ends its eclipse and at 2.47 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede disappears for an occultation.
The Moon is close to the red planet Mars at 5.30 am. The limb separation is less than 4° or less than 8 lunar diameters. The altitude is 10° and the Moon phase is 92%.
Monday 25 April
Mars is still close to Saturn with the Moon between them. The bright orange star Antares completes the view. The Moon is less than 7 lunar diameters from Saturn at 0.40 am. Watch this earlier when the Moon is not too low above the horizon.
The Great Red Spot is in transit over the giant planet Jupiter at 0.53 am.
At 2.24 am a rather bright Iridium flare appears in the North West at an altitude of 16° in the constellation Auriga.
The Moon is in maximum libration South at 6.10 am. The Moon's South Pole is tipped into the Earth's view.
Tuesday 26 April
The Great Red Spot is in transit on Jupiter's disc at 8.44 pm.
At 8.53 pm the red planet Mars is close to the bright star Antares. They are less than 5° separated. Look for a better view in the morning when both are above the horizon.
An Iridium flare appears at 11.25 pm in the West at an altitude of 19° in the constellation Gemini. Another brighter flare at 3.39 am in the West at an altitude of 49° in the constellation Canes Venatici.
The Moon is in maximum declination South at 5.47 am. This is the lowest Southernmost Moon position of the next 10 years. The former lower Southern Southernmost Moon position was on 30 March 2016. The next lower Southern Southernmost Moon position will be on 3 September 2033.
Wednesday 27 April
Satellites are easy to spot in the night skies. They move slowly as a “dot” or “star” between the stars in the night sky. Watch them with the naked eye. Iridium flares do lit up or get brighter at certain positions, where their antennas are turned into the Sunlight under the horizon. At 9.39 pm a flare appears in the North East at an altitude of 76° in the constellation Ursa Major. Another flare appears at 11.20 pm in the West at an altitude of 20° in the constellation Gemini.
When you use a small telescope or a steady and good binocular, you can see the 4 bright Moons and the surface of the giant planet Jupiter. At 2.31 am the Great Red Spot will transit the disc of the planet.
At 3.34 am the Moon is in maximum libration.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.