April is synonymous with spring , at least in Spain and the northern hemisphere. Although it is usually a rainy month (hence the saying), the improvement in temperatures and the return to life of so many plants after winter can be a fantastic reason to get away from the city and enjoy a day outdoors and , why not, from an observation of the night sky . We give you below some information about what we can see this month in the sky .
We will start the month with a new moon on April 1 , which will grow since then to reach its fullness during April 16 , reaching its maximum brightness shortly after sunset. This month we will have a second new moon , which will take place on the 30th , just before the change of the month.
The month of April brings with it new constellations, which take over from other more wintery ones. Orion, Taurus and Canis Major , which house stars as recognizable as Betelgeuse, Aldebaran or Sirius , and are more typical of winter, can only be seen during the first hours of the night . Constellations such as Gemini, Leo or Virgo , which were already taking center stage in March, will dominate the skies in April , along with the constellation of the Boyero or Coachman , dominated by the star Arthur (or Arcturus), a very bright red star. Well into the morning, although sooner and later, constellations more typical of summer will be seen , such as the Lyra or the Swan , however they will spend most of their time on the daytime horizon.
The planets will be taking a break compared to the March show, although in early April we’ll still be able to enjoy the aftermath of the triple conjunction late last month, with Venus, Mars and Saturn very close in the morning sky . Little by little they will separate and come out sooner and later, facilitating their observation but reducing the spectacle.
Towards the end of the month, however, we will be able to enjoy a new conjunction, between Jupiter and Venus . These two planets, which are also the two brightest objects in the sky after, obviously, the Sun and the Moon, will get closer during the last week of the month, to reach a closest apparent approach on April 30 . The exact moment of minimum distance will not be visible from Spain, but both on April 30 and May 1 at sunrise we will be able to enjoy these two planets simultaneously in the field of view of our telescopes or binoculars (or with the naked eye, as two little dots very close). The conjunction will be visible from about 5:30 to 7:00 in the morning, the exact time depending on where you’re observing from. Remember that although we see them so close in the sky, the real distance between these planets will be enormous, being located hundreds of millions of kilometers from each other . Venus will appear so bright because it is relatively close to Earth, while Jupiter stands out in the night sky because of its sheer size , about 10 times larger in diameter than either Venus or Earth.
Also, if you have a modest telescope or some high-end binoculars , and if the atmospheric conditions are on your side, you might be able to observe one of Jupiter’s moons during conjunction . On the 30th at dawn you could see its four main satellites , those discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610, although by May 1 Io will have been behind the gas giant and you will only be able to observe 3 of them. Jupiter and Venus will be so close in the sky that they will appear to be part of the same system.
For those of you who have some more advanced equipment at home, this month we will have one more planetary conjunction, only visible with a good telescope . This conjunction will be, like everything related to the observation of planets lately, at sunrise and will involve Jupiter and Neptune . Actually the moment of minimum separation will occur during the Spanish afternoon of April 12, but it will not be visible. Yes, the planets will be visible before sunrise , in the east. Neptune will appear as a very faint bluish dot, shining less brightly than any of Jupiter’s 4 largest moons . The two planets will be so close in the sky that Neptune could be confused with another moon of Jupiter .
The Sun will begin the month above Pisces , remaining in this constellation for several weeks until moving to Aries towards the end of April , where it will remain briefly before moving above Taurus in May. This does not practically coincide with the dates assigned by astrology to the horoscope, which is indicative of the unreliability of this pseudoscience. However, the Sun continues to move away from the celestial equator (the projection of the terrestrial equator on the sky), rising over the northern hemisphere and thereby lengthening the length of the days and heating this area of the planet , as corresponds to spring.