April skies blossom with some amazing sights

Mar 30, 2022, 3:00 PM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

The year seems to be flying by!

As the Earth makes its way around the celestial racetrack, we welcome in month No. 4, April, with some very interesting sights to see.

April gets its name from a Latin word aperire, which means “to open,” just like the many plants and flowers do during this period of time.

This month is busy with holidays and celebrations, with Easter and Passover, to name just two.

Many interesting things will happen in our skies and that is where this story begins.

The moon is the starting point for this column, as we experience the first of two new moon events in the calendar month.

While two full moons in a calendar month are sometimes referred to as a blue moon, we call these events a black moon.

While not visible to the naked eye, this is an interesting series of calendar events.

Start to find the thin waxing moon low in the west at sunset as early as Saturday night.

The moon passes within 0.6 degree of Uranus the next night.

The waxing moon returns to its first quarter phase April 9. From here, the moon waxes and is at its gibbous phase until it reaches the full pink moon on the night of the 16th.

This occurs in Arizona at 11:55 a.m.; the moon will rise near sunset and appear to the right of due east.

Here is a link to the exact times of moonrise and moonset in Phoenix.

In my opinion, there is nothing that beats a great view and picture of the rising moon, with the local mountains in the background. So, get out your phone camera or other camera and capture a great image.

The show gets better as we look to visible planets in our Arizona skies!

As mentioned before in our podcasts, the real action for planets is in the morning sky.

Look to the east-northeast around an hour before local sunrise and you will see bright Venus, with Mars to the upper right and Saturn close by too.

Pay particular attention to the last week of April, as both Jupiter and Venus will create a very nice conjunction.

This will happen best on the morning of April 30, with the moon lurking in this area of the sky on April 27.

Both Venus and Jupiter will be as close as 0.2 degrees in the sky and be easy to view with the naked eye. Quite a sight!

For more advanced observers with a decent telescope, look for Venus on the morning of the 27th. At this time, Venus and Neptune will be within less than a moon diameter apart.

Venus will be so bright and the fainter Neptune will appear as a bluish star.

With the season of Passover and Easter, it is a reminder to us of much warmer weather returning to Arizona.

On a final note, the first of the decent meteor showers, the Lyrids, return to our skies, with the peak of the shower on the morning April 22. Look to the northeastern sky after sunset before the moon rises, as moonlight will reduce the number seen.

Here is more on the Lyrid shower.

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 at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

Dr. Sky Blog

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April skies blossom with some amazing sights