April 2024

Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events!

All times and dates are in UT with the time given to the nearest 30 minutes.
Planetary positions are geocentric apparent places, referred to the true equator and equinox of date.

The phases of the in April 2024

Day Events
1 Mercury reaches a stationary point in both ecliptic longitude and right ascension, and commences retrograde motion.
3 At 14:00, Venus and Neptune are only 0.3° apart in the morning sky.
6 The waning crescent Moon passes 2.0° south of Mars at 05:00 and then occults Saturn about four hours later.
7 The Moon first occults Neptune at 04:30 and then Venus at 14:00. Our satellite arrives at perigee shortly afterwards.
8 The NEW MOON passes through its descending node, leading to a total solar eclipse.
9 The very young crescent Moon is found 2.2° south of Mercury.
10 At 21:30, Mars moves past Saturn at a distance of only 0.4°. Thirty minutes later, the Moon and Jupiter are a more distant 4.0° apart.
11 The Moon glides 3.6° north of Uranus at 01:00. Later, at 12:30, the Moon occults M45 (Pleiades). Mercury reaches inferior conjunction just before the end of the day.
14 Minor planet 136199 Eris is at conjunction today.
15 The FIRST QUARTER MOON is just 1.5° south of β Gem (Pollux) at 14:00.
16 At 15:00, the waxing gibbous Moon passes 3.5° north of the open cluster M44 (Beehive).
18 The Moon is 3.6° north of the first-magnitude star α Leo (Regulus) at 18:00.
19 The two inferior planets, Mercury and Venus, come to within 1.7° at 10:00.
20 The Moon reaches apogee today. Also, Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks reaches perihelion, approximately 0.8 au from the Sun. Meanwhile, in the distant reaches of our solar system, minor planet 136108 Haumea arrives at opposition.
21 Jupiter finally overtakes Uranus, with the two planets coming to conjunction in ecliptic longitude at 03:30. The two bodies are half a degree apart.
22 Strong moonlight spoils the annual return of the Lyrid meteor shower which should peak around 07:00. The Moon passes through its descending node.
23 The FULL MOON appears 1.5° north of the first-magnitude star α Vir (Spica) at 02:00 and washes out the π Puppid meteor shower.
24 Mercury is stationary in right ascension and returns to direct motion today.
25 However, Mercury does not return to direct motion with respect to ecliptic longitude until today.
26 The waning gibbous Moon occults the first-magnitude star α Sco (Antares) at 20:00.
29 Mars skims past Neptune at 05:30; the two planets are only 0.03° apart.

The position of the Sun and planets at mid-April 2024

Sun PiscesAries
Mercury Pisces Mercury spends most of the month in retrograde, returning to direct motion near the end of April. The best evening apparition of the year for observers in northern temperate latitudes ends with inferior conjunction on 11 April. The tiny planet reappears in the dawn sky in what is the best morning apparition for early birds in the southern hemisphere. Mercury and Venus have a close encounter on 19 April but the two planets are barely 12° away from the Sun at the time. The smallest planet in the solar system begins its second morning apparition at sixth magnitude but brightens to +1.1 by the end of the month.
Venus AquariusPiscesCetusPiscesAries The morning star continues to descend toward the eastern horizon and is already too low to be seen from far north latitudes. It is occulted by the crescent Moon on 7 April but at 15° elongation from the Sun and the Moon nearly new, this event will be almost impossible to see. The conjunction with Neptune four days earlier is even more difficult due to Neptune's faintness.
Earth and Moon Both the Lyrid and π Puppid meteor showers are washed out by the Full Moon. The Moon continues its busy occultation schedule, blotting out Saturn, Neptune, Venus, the Pleiades open star cluster, and the bright star Antares this month. And the New Moon participates in this year's first solar eclipse, a total one on 8 April.
Mars AquariusPisces Mars lingers in the morning sky, slowly drawing away from the Sun, and best viewed from southern latitudes. Shining at magnitude +1.2, it passes 0.7° south of the fourth-magnitude star λ Aqr at 08:30 on 7 April and 0.2° south of another fourth-magnitude star, φ Aqr, at 11:00 one week later. It also has a close encounter with Saturn on 10 April and an even closer pass by Neptune near the end of the month.
Jupiter AriesTaurus Jupiter and Uranus come together in a rare conjunction on 21 April. This last happened in 2010–11 when the two planets underwent a triple conjunction and the next conjunction, also a triple, will take place in 2037–38. This time they pass by only once, when they are about 20° away from the Sun. Both planets are found in the west at sunset but only bright Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye.
Saturn Aquarius The ringed planet is found in the morning sky this month. It is occulted by the waning crescent Moon on 6 April and is passed by Mars four days later. Saturn is a first-magnitude object and is best seen from the southern hemisphere.
Uranus Aries Jupiter moves past Uranus at a distance of half a degree on 21 April. The two planets are getting low in the west after sunset and a telescope will probably be necessary to see sixth-magnitude Uranus in twilight skies.
Neptune Pisces Neptune was at conjunction last month and now appears in the morning sky. Brilliant Venus skims past the blue ice giant on the third day of the month and a lunar occultation takes place on 7 April. Mars also comes to call on 29 April, appearing a scant 0.03° north of Neptune at 05:30. A southern-hemisphere vantage point is the best place to be to view these celestial events and as always, a small telescope is necessary to view this most distant planet in the solar system.