Astronomy

Evening Planets:
Mars is up in the West as evening darkness falls. The planet slow eastward movement keeps it from setting until around 11 pm for the entire month. The planet also loses some more brightness as the month progresses. The dull planet spends the entire month in the Constellation of Taurus.
Jupiter makes the switch to an evening planet towards the end of the month. On 1 April, the planet rises after Midnight in the SE. By midmonth, the planet rises around Midnight. At the end of the month, the planet rises around 11:30 pm. As the month progresses, Jupiter has a nice increase in brightness. The planet however remains low in the sky.

Morning Planets:
Saturn rises in the SSE about 2 hours before Dawn breaks. Each morning, Saturn is rising a tad earlier. By the end of the month, the planet manages to rise about 1 hour after Midnight. Saturn has such a small increase in brightness during the month that this slight brightness increase will be hard to see. Saturn suffers the same altitude problem as Jupiter does and is low in the sky.
Venus rises in the bright morning twilight in the East. The planet never gets that high in the sky before the bright light of Dawn overwhelms it. The planet stays at the same brightness throughout the month. This is a poor showing of Venus in the morning sky.
Mercury rises after Venus and also puts on a poor showing in the East. The planet rises about 30 minutes after Venus and is really stuck in the bright Dawn light. Although the planet follows Venus, it never gets that close. On 11 April, the planet is at its highest altitude for this showing. At that time the altitude of Mercury is still very low and Mercury will be difficult to see. After that, the planet loses some more altitude and is stuck in the bright glow of the oncoming Sunrise.

8 Apr Crescent Moon, Mars and Star Cluster Pleiades form a equilateral triangle, Evening
9 Apr Moon above bright star Aldebaran, Evening
14 Apr Moon right of bright star Regulus, Evening
21-22 Apr Lyrids Meteor Shower
23 Apr Waning Gibbous Moon just to the upper right of Jupiter, Dawn
25 Apr Waning Gibbous Moon lower right of Saturn, Dawn

Lyrids Meteor Shower:
The Lyrids Meteor Shower will peak on the night of 21-22 April. This is a very bad time for the Lyrids because the Moon is just past full and will ruin the view of the meteors. Consider yourself lucky if you can even see 5 meteors per hour.

April Fireballs:
This little known irregular display on occasion produces rare, very bright and slow moving fireball meteors. This display is nicknamed the “April Fireballs”. A fireball is a very bright meteor that seems to shoot flames from it. Not much is known about this rare fireball display. These rare fireballs have no known constellation associated with them. On occasion, these fireballs happen around the time of the Lyrids. Unfortunately these rare fireballs will suffer the same lunar interference just like the Lyrids. Consider yourself very lucky if you see one fireball all night long.

Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society