DR. SKY BLOG

Arizona stargazers will see some great sights during April

Apr 3, 2019, 2:00 PM

(Flickr/Goulven Champenois)...

(Flickr/Goulven Champenois)

(Flickr/Goulven Champenois)

With the first quarter of 2019 here and gone, now is a great time to plan for some amazing sights in our Arizona skies as we welcome in the month of April.

With the prospect of much warmer weather, we are going to experience some of the best conditions for going out and looking to the skies.

April begins with clear and dark skies, as the moon will be moving on to its new phase by Friday. Just before this, the moon made for a close encounter with the planet Venus on the 2nd, low in the east.

The period from Friday to April 12 offers evening sky watchers to see some remarkable views of the waxing moon, low in the west at sunset.

Pay particular attention to the waxing crescent moon on the night of April 8 and 9, as the moon will glide by the planet Mars and the tiny star cluster, the Pleiades in Taurus the Bull.

The moon will be some 245,000 miles from Earth, as Mars will be near the distance of some 200,000,000 miles from Earth. The light from Mars takes some 17 minutes to get to us, as Mars slowly moves away from the Earth in the night sky.

After first quarter on the 12th, the moon moves on to its gibbous phase and finally reaches another amazing full moon. The full moon for April is known as the full Pink Moon, which will occur here in Arizona at 4:12 a.m. MST on the morning of April 19.

The month of April is also wrapped around the celebration of Easter and Passover. The date of Easter has an astronomical story to it also!

Simply put, the dates of Easter is centered around the first Sunday after the full moon, occurring after the Vernal Equinox.

So in 2019, we find Easter to be set on the calendar on April 21.

The moon then moves on to its waning phase with last quarter on the 26th as the month closes out.

Mars is the major planet in the evening sky in April, but the rest of the planetary parade is set for the morning sky.

Look to the southeast sky around midnight, as the mighty planet Jupiter rises and becomes very easy to view with the naked eye.

Jupiter will come to opposition in June, making it the best time to view it as it rises at sunset by June 10.

Lower to the horizon and rising in the southeast, we find Saturn deep in the Milky Way star fields of Sagittarius the Archer.

Venus and Mercury are also visible low in the ESE just before dawn, with Mercury reaching out for a decent elongation in the morning sky, by April 11.

On a final note, the first of the regular meteor showers will arrive in our Arizona skies on the morning of April 23. Look to the northeast sky, as the annual Lyrid meteor shower will reach its peak.

These meteors will arrive on the tail of debris, from a comet known as Comet Thatcher.

You may get to see 10 to 20 meteors per hour, but bright moonlight will give you some difficulty.

Here is a finder chart for the Lyrid meteor shower.

April skies will be full of amazing sights!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

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Arizona stargazers will see some great sights during April