April 2022 Night Sky Guide

(WVNS) – Stormtracker59 Meteorologist Bradley Wells is back with another look at upcoming celestial events that will delight our region throughout the month. With April upon us, those of us in both Virginias will be treated to a meteor shower, the pink moon, and even a comet! Be sure to bookmark this page so you and your family can enjoy all that the April night sky has to offer.

The following events are marked as follows below for your convenience.
NAKED EYE EVENT: The event is visible without the aid of binoculars or telescopes in dark sky conditions.
TELESCOPE EVENT: Event is enhanced by using or requires a recreational telescope or binoculars
LARGE TELESCOPE EVENT: A large professional telescope (8-10 inches) is required to view the event.

APRIL (ALL MONTH) – THE PLANETARY PARTY CONTINUES: NUDE EYE EVENT – The planetary party continues in April with Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury coming together in the pre-dawn sky. Look east all month 90 minutes before sunrise to see these 5 planets. Things get interesting towards the end of the month with this band that I cover below.

APRIL 1 – NEW MOON: NUDE EYE EVENT: We start the month of April with a new moon. The first days of April will be favorable for observing the night sky thanks to the low light conditions. The moon becomes fuller with each passing day. The crescent moon will delight early risers with a rare treat for the end of the month with the next new moon on April 30. Continue for more details.

APRIL 5 – GOD OF WAR RECEIVES A RING NUDE EYE EVENT: Mars and Saturn nearly touch each other in the early morning sky on April 5. The red planet and the famous rings of Saturn will delight early risers. Mars will look like a small reddish dot in the eastern sky next to the larger, brighter dot of Saturn.

APRIL 4 – ISS INCOMING NUDE EYE EVENT – The two Virginias will be treated to a flyby of the International Space Station that night. The ISS will appear as a slowly moving star appearing in the northwest sky around 8:29 p.m. It will then cross the night sky above your head to the southeast sky and disappear taking about 7 minutes to make the trip.

APRIL 16 – PINK MOON: NUDE EYE EVENT – The April full moon rises tonight and is known as the “pink moon”. Despite what social media tries to make you think, the moon isn’t actually turning pink. The name is given, in part, to the April full moon rising around the same time as a common flowering plant, the creeping phlox or mossy phlox. The plant is also known as moss rose and blooms at this time of year. This full moon is also known as the “Paschal” moon because it is the first full moon of spring. The March Full Moon occurred 4 days before the official start of spring on March 20.

APRIL 21 – COMET WATCH TELESCOPE EVENT – A newly discovered comet is expected to pass in front of our sun this month. The comet is named C/2021 O3 PanSTARRS. The first visitor to our solar system will see its brightness increase throughout the month, so telescope users will be on the lookout! The comet is believed to have come from the Oort cloud and will reach its escape velocity as it moves around our sun. This means the comet will leave our solar system, never to return. The comet is expected to pass our sun 26.6 million miles away and reach over 750 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. If the comet can survive the encounter with our sun, it could become visible in the northwestern sky between April 23 and May 8. The comet will be about 51 million miles from Earth as it passes, or 200 times the distance of the moon. Astronomers say it’s still too early to know if this object will be bright enough for a NUDE EYE EVENT but admit that there is a chance.

APRIL 22 – SHOOTING STARS: NUDE EYE EVENT – It’s been a while since we’ve had a noticeable meteor shower in our area. Our period of meteoritic drought ends with the Lyrids meteor showers. From April 16 through the 30, night sky watchers will have a decent chance of seeing their very own shooting star. Although the peak of Lyrid activity is short-lived, there is hope for those looking to get out of it to have the best chance of spotting one of these meteorites on the 22nd. (61% full) doesn’t rise until after midnight, providing people with dark skies early on for excellent viewing. Look northeast near the star Vega in the constellation Lyra.

MARCH 23 – SHRINKING MOON: NUDE EYE EVENT – As we begin to close out the month, our moon now “shrinks” until the 30th. From quarter full to crescent to new moon, our morning moon will put on a dazzling spectacle dancing with our morning planets from here the end of the month. Look north-northeast for the rest of the month before sunrise to see our moon gliding past 5 planets.

APRIL 25 – 30 – GOOD NIGHT MOON: NUDE EYE EVENT– Early risers have been treated to a planetary party all month long, but it’s time for our moon to say goodnight. As our crescent moon sets each morning, it will dance with Saturn, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter. Each morning, the moon will dance with a new partner from the 25th to the 30th. Look northeast just before sunrise to see which planet the moon is with each day.

APRIL 28 – MERCURY, IS IT YOU? NUDE EYE EVENT– Most planets have a small window for better viewing. For the planet closest to our sun Mercury, its “best face” will be shown on the morning of April 28. This morning, Mercury glides to its furthest position from the sun, giving us on Earth a great opportunity to see it.
TELESCOPE EVENT: A rare treat for telescope users to see the elusive Mercury for a little longer than usual.

APRIL 30 – THE BLACK MOON NUDE EYE EVENT– While two full moons in a single month are called a “blue moon”, two new moons in a month are called a “black moon”. One tonight, our own dark moon will rise tonight. For those in the Southern Hemisphere along the coast of Chile and across the South Pacific Ocean to Antarctica, they will be treated to a partial solar eclipse that day.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page so you don’t miss any events!

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