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What to Look for in the Night Sky in April

This month marks the beginning of galaxy season, as well as a rare hybrid solar eclipse and a meteor shower.

Whereas March ushers in spring gently, April ushers in warmer days and balmy nights with zeal. The transformation is most visible in the evenings, when the hushed silence of winter gives The world awakens from its frosty slumber to a lively symphony of insect chatter. Despite this ecstatic nocturnal revival, the relatively early evening darkness still affords an excellent opportunity to gaze at the starry skies! Here are some celestial highlights for those who are interested. Clear skies!

It’s Galaxy Season, so get your telescope ready (all month)

As the northern hemisphere welcomes spring, it also heralds the start of galaxy season for those who own a reliable telescope. What makes this season so unique? The plane of the Milky Way galaxy comes into direct view during the winter and summer, casting a veil of “local” galactic stars that obscure the distant galaxies. However, in the spring, we look “above” this plane, whereas in the autumn, we look “below.”

Until the end of May, the night sky is brimming with exquisite galaxy “clusters,” such as the renowned Virgo Cluster, captivating astrophotography enthusiasts. Do you want to go on a celestial adventure? During this time, Astrobackyard provides useful information on how to spot eight magnificent galaxies. It is recommended that you purchase a telescope with a focal length of at least 600mm or greater to achieve truly “out-of-this-world” results.

Blush at the ‘Pink’ Full Moon (April 6)

The full moon in April, dubbed the ‘Pink Moon‘ after the rush of colour from creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) blooms in the springtime, rises at 12:35 a.m. EDT on April 6.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Full Moon in April is also known as the “Breaking Ice Moon” (Algonquin) and the “Moon When the Ducks Come Back” (Dakota). In the southern hemisphere, where the transition to winter is in full swing, the Mori of New Zealand refer to April’s Moon as Haratua, which means “moon of April.” “Crops are now kept in pits. Man’s tasks have been completed.”

Mercury is at its highest after sunset this year (April 11)

What to Look for in the Night Sky in April || اپریل میں نائٹ اسکائی

Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation on April 11th, providing the best evening of the year to observe the small planet. During this time, Mercury will be at its highest point above the horizon, though still low in the western sky, and will shine at magnitude 0. If you’re in a dark place, the dazzling glow of Venus above Mercury can help you find your way.

The elevation of Mercury will be at its highest for the year in the days preceding and following its maximum eastern elongation on the 11th. As the month of April comes to a close, Mercury’s elevation will gradually decrease, bringing its apparent position closer to the Sun, making observation more difficult. This celestial event provides skywatchers with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the beauty of both Mercury and Venus in the same frame.

A New Moon Brings Dark Skies (April 20)

What to Look for in the Night Sky in April || اپریل میں نائٹ اسکائی
In April, the Cigar Galaxy is best viewed through binoculars or a backyard telescope.
The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) and NASA/ESA

We’re heading into April with a New Moon and exceptionally dark skies, just like last month. For a few days before and after April 20, you can train your eyes, binoculars, or telescope to see galaxies, shooting stars, and other wonders that would otherwise be obscured by moonlight.

Do you require a target? We recommend The Cigar Galaxy this month (M82). This celestial beauty, about 12 million light-years away, is known as a “starburst galaxy” due to its unusually fast rate of star formation. It is located in the constellation Ursa Major and is roughly five times as bright as our Milky Way (with its centre portion nearly 100 times brighter).

Down Under, an extremely rare hybrid solar eclipse occurs (April 20)

A rare event known as a hybrid solar eclipse will take place on April 20 for a small number of viewers in the Southern Hemisphere. This type of solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, either completely or partially blocking the Sun’s light. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon appears to be larger than the Sun and creates total darkness by blocking all direct sunlight.

A hybrid solar eclipse is distinguished by the fact that its appearance changes as the Moon’s shadow moves across the Earth’s surface. In this case, total darkness occurs only along a narrow path on Earth, while a larger area covering thousands of kilometres experiences a partial eclipse. Hybrid solar eclipses are extremely rare, accounting for only 3.1% (7 of 224) of all solar eclipses recorded in the twentieth century. On November 14, 2031, the southern United States will experience a partial eclipse.

The North West Cape peninsula and Barrow Island in Western Australia, some eastern areas of East Timor, Damar Island, and parts of Papua province in Indonesia will experience total darkness during the upcoming hybrid solar eclipse. Visit Time and Date for more information.

Capture a Lyrid Star and Keep It in Your Pocket (April 22/23).

What to Look for in the Night Sky in April || اپریل میں نائٹ اسکائی
Lyrid meteor and Milky Way in California’s Anza-Borrego Desert. Images courtesy of Owen Humphreys/PA via Getty

The Lyrid Meteor Shower will peak on April 22/23, with a New Moon keeping skies dark enough for even the faintest shooting stars to shine.

Lyrids aren’t known for being a particularly prolific shower, with peak rates of around 20 meteors per hour. According to EarthSky, roughly one-quarter of them leave glowing trails behind them, which is a nice bonus for those who would otherwise ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ shooting. If you can hold out until 2042, you will be able to witness a Lyrid outburst, which is expected to produce dozens of shooting stars per hour. Earth passes through a dense debris stream left by Comet Thatcher, the source of the Lyrids, once every 60 years. The Earth passes through a dense debris stream left by Comet Thatcher, the source of the Lyrids, once every 60 years. At its peak in 1982, the last outburst produced nearly 100 meteors per hour.

Find a clear patch of night sky free of light pollution to spot them. The constellation Lyra appears to emit lyrids (which is easy to spot thanks to its inclusion of Vega, one of the brightest stars). What to Look for in the Night Sky in April || اپریل میں نائٹ اسکائی


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