All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book Nightscenes 2020 which is available to order from our web shop and all good book stores!
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.
In the evening sky Uranus may be spotted for the first week but then drops into the evening twilight and is lost to view in the second half of April. Venus still dominates and passes through the Pleiades star cluster on the 3rd. Vesta is faint but moves up past the Hyades cluster during the first two weeks but is now dropping lower towards the evening twilight.
We then have to wait for Jupiter, Saturn and Mars to rise in the early morning with all three close on the 1st before Mars moves away from the two gas giant planets. Neptune and Mercury remain lost in the solar glare all month.
The April Lyrids Meteor shower peak on the early morning of the 22nd and are favourable to view with New Moon occurring the next day.
Venus rapidly moves away from the cluster but meantime the much fainter minor planet of Vesta (mag 8.4) is also passing the Hyades cluster but will need binoculars on a tripod to spot clearly. As a helpful guide it lies in line with Epsilon Tauri and Aldebaran on the 12th as shown above left.
Venus has been rapidly heading towards M45 since mid last month but on the 3rd it lies within the lower part of the cluster itself and forms a triangle with the stars Alcyone and Merope.
The view at left shows the naked eye view looking towards the western horizon whereas the close up chart below gives a simulation of the cluster with the position of Venus shown for the 3rd so let us hope the sky is clear that evening!
The Crescent Moon passes through Taurus on the 25th and 26th for a great view as shown here for approximately 9:30pm. Although this part of the sky is slipping down and will soon be in the evening twilight, we lose Vesta early next month but the brightness of Venus will keep it viewable for a bit longer to grace our evenings.
We haven’t quite finished with the moon in late April as it can often lie close to a reasonably bright star and it does so on the 27th when the thick crescent moon lies just below 1 Geminorum (right). This mag 4.3 star is part of the ‘feet’ of Castor, one of the twins of Gemini and above it lies the nice open cluster M35 as an added bonus so check them out in binoculars and a small telescope.
Most of the current events involve Venus in the evenings but if you like morning events then the three planets of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn lie in the morning twilight over in the SE at approximately 5am. The almost half moon lies below Jupiter and Saturn on the 15th then below Mars on the 16th as shown here. Jupiter and Saturn's motion is slowing as they head towards their stationary points next month but Mars can be seen to move over the two days as the moon passes through the view. Mars itself continues onwards through Capricornus and passes below Theta on the 20th then lies close to Iota on the 25th/26th.
The April Lyrids meteor shower peaks on the 22nd in the early morning. Fortunately the Moon is new the next day so will not spoil the view. The radiant lies in the NE sky and rises higher during the night at around 60° high by 3am so this is an early morning shower to look out for. 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:
1st First Quarter moon forms triangle with Pollux and Castor in Gemini
4th Moon lies above Regulus in Leo (evening)
7th Moon lies to left of Porrima and above Spica in Virgo (evening)
8th Full Moon lies to left of Spica in Virgo Supermoon (evening)
9th Moon rises to the left of Alpha Librae (late evening)
11th Moon lies very close to Graffias in Scorpius (morning)
29th Moon lies to left of Castor and Pollux (evening)
30th First Quarter Moon lies to left of M44, Beehive cluster in Cancer (evening)
Clear skies, happy sky watching and stay safe!
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2020
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2020
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