All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book
Nightscenes 2018 which is available to order from our web shop and all good book stores! Note we can no longer supply printed copies as we’ve run out but a pdf version is now available from our web shop.
Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire. All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm) and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.
Solar System quick summary
For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.
Dwarf planet Ceres is still quite high in the evening sky over in Cancer and visible in a 10x50 binocular. Venus comes to dominate the early evening skies as the ‘Evening Star’ and around the 19th onwards we also find Jupiter rising low on the other side of the sky giving us two bright planets. In the morning skies, Mars is in conjunction with Saturn on the 2nd and also lies above the globular cluster M2, then moves away from them. It passes south of Pluto on the 26th. Vesta also lies nearby, passing above the star cloud M24 at the end of the month. The Moon rises on the 8th whilst occulting Pi Sagittarius which reappears shortly afterwards. The April Lyrids meteor shower peaks on the 22nd but best to view later in the night once the Moon has set. Mercury, Uranus and Neptune are too close to the Sun to view.
Venus slowly improves during April and our chart at left shows its path set for ~ forty minutes after sunset from April 1st to 30th. It should be unmistakable as a bright ‘star’ in the evening twilight sky and has the added bonus of the crescent Moon below left of it on the 17th. Look out for Earthshine on the night side of the Moon as an extra bonus. The motion of planets and the background motion of the stars always presents a conundrum as to how best to show events, so for clarity the chart at left doesn’t show the stars or Venus’ motion with respect to them.
So the chart at right shows Venus as it moves up towards, and into, Taurus from April 17th. The Moon is again shown for the 17th and now for the 18th as well but the time is set for 9:30pm when Taurus, Venus and the Moon are low and in a darker sky. The sky orientation is also not set for the horizon view but with North up. Venus then passes between the star cluster M45 and the bright star Aldebaran with the Hyades cluster nearby on the 27th. It then continues past the Hyades into May.
Jupiter is rising earlier each passing day and by mid month it is just creeping over the SE horizon as Venus is setting over on the NW horizon at around 10pm. Jupiter is still better seen from midnight onwards as it climbs higher into the sky during the night but if you have a clear horizon all the way round then it is worth looking out for the two brightest planets on opposite sides of the sky before Venus sets.
The view above is set for April 21st just after 10pm and also shows the Moon high up in Gemini. I won’t comment on where it is in Gemini but suffice to say it is between the legs of the twin, Pollux. Perhaps he is playing football with the Moon and Castor is about to tackle?
Next we have the brief encounter between Mars and Saturn. On the 1st Mars lies near to the RHS of the globular cluster M22 but next morning it lies above it and on a line between M22 and Saturn when it is closest to the ringed planet. It continues to move away and on the 7th the Moon lies to their right then on their left on the 8th. That morning keep an eye on the Moon after it has risen for careful viewing will allow you to spot the reappearance of Pi Sagittarius which is just shown emerging on the enlargement of the moon for the 8th. Look from just after 4:15am and again times will vary across the UK and Ireland. Mars then passes below the ‘Teaspoon’ asterism and during the month brightens a little from mag + 0.4 to -
Meteor showers are worth looking out for when the Moon is out of the way. The April Lyrids peak on the 22nd in the early evening this year. However the First Quarter Moon will spoil the view so it is best to wait until the moon has set which is around 3am next morning. The good news is that by then the radiant will be around 60° high so well placed for viewing meteors shooting away from it. Note, the chart at right shows the radiant moves slowly towards Lyra and slightly below Vega from Hercules from April 15th to 25th. It is perhaps a little ironic that most of the time the radiant actually lies in Hercules since the formalisation and adoption of the IAU constellation boundaries!
Also look out for the following:
Apr 1st Moon lies to left of Spica this evening
Apr 2nd Moon lies above Jupiter as they rise in the late evening
Apr 3rd Vesta lies near the open cluster NGC 6507 in the morning sky
Apr 5th Moon lies above Antares this morning
Apr 24th Moon lies very close to Regulus this evening / Venus closest to M45 (eve)
Apr 27th Moon lies close to Porrima in Virgo
Apr 28th Moon again lies to the upper left of Spica
Apr 30th Full Moon lies near to Jupiter
Clear skies and happy sky watching.
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2018
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2018
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