Skywatch – April 2020

(UNDATED) – Venus is that unbelievably dazzling evening “star” you’ve probably already noticed. You don’t need a star chart. It’s the brightest object in the night sky except for the Moon. Just look toward the western skies at nightfall. 

Venus and the Moon, Photo NASA
  • Tonight, Venus parades in front of the Pleiades (aka Seven Sisters) star cluster. Look west after sunset. Venus is the brightest object in the sky and impossible to miss. It’s so dazzling that it’s bright enough to cast faint shadows.  See more at The Best Evening Star of Your Life.
     
  • The year’s closest Moon is on Tuesday, April 7th. It’s in the full phase, so the media will call it a “supermoon,” even if the super size may not be apparent to observers.  See the Almanac’s Guide to the April Full Pink Moon.
     

The other planets – Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn – all rise before the Sun. Mercury rises near the sunrise point on the horizon in the predawn sky.

  • Saturn and Mars, very close together on the 1st, have crossed into Capricornus, with brilliant Jupiter lingering to their right in Sagittarius. Mars then speeds away to the left, leaving the three planets in a line during most of the month.
     
  • On April 15th, the Moon hovers below the three bright planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – in the morning sky. This striking conjunction rises by 4 a.m. and is well seen in the southeast as dawn begins. 
     
  • On April 25th and 26th, look towards the Moon after sunset to find Venus. In Taurus, the dazzling evening star reaches her brightest and highest at a shadow-casting magnitude –4.7. Venus stands above the Moon on the 25th, and to the Moon’s right on the 26th.

THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY

Sirius is nicknamed “the Dog Star,” because it’s the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major. Sirius is super easy to locate: Just face toward the south and look for Orion. The three bright stars that make up Orion’s belt point downward, toward Sirius. See my post on Sirius, The Brightest Star in the Sky Tonight.

See the Almanac’s Bright Planets Calculator to find out when planets rises and sets from your backyard. Just type in your zip code.

You can also check the Almanac’s Moonrise and Moonset calculator.

Information The 2020 Old Farmer’s Almanac

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