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Skywatching Events for April 2011
Astronaut Paolo Nespoli took this image of the moon aboard the International Space Station on March 20, 2011, and wrote, "#Supermoon was spectacular from here!"
Credit: ESA/NASA

Here's a look at the most promising skywatching events in April 2011:

Moon Phases

Sun., April 3

New Moon, 10:32 a.m. EDT

The Moon is not visible on the date of New Moon because it is too close to the Sun, but can be seen low in the east as a narrow crescent a morning or two before, just before sunrise. It is visible low in the west an evening or two after New Moon.

Mon., April 11

First Quarter Moon, 8:05 a.m. EDT

The First Quarter Moon rises around 12:30 p.m., and sets around 3:30 a.m.

Sun., April 17

Full Moon, 10:44 p.m. EDT

The Full Moon of April is usually known as the Egg Moon.

In Algonquian it is called Pink Moon. Other names are Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, and Waking Moon. In Hindi it is known as Hanuman Jayanti. Its Sinhala (Buddhist) name is Bak Poya. The Full Moon rises around sunset and sets around sunrise, the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the Moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky.

Sun., April 24

Last Quarter Moon, 10:47 a.m. EDT

The Last or Third Quarter Moon rises around 2 a.m. and sets around noon. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Observing Highlights

Sun., April 3, 8 p.m. EDT

Saturn at opposition

Saturn, located just above Spica in Virgo, returns to the evening sky, visible all night. Its rings have now opened up so that their Cassini Division should now be visible in small telescopes.

Thu., April 7, early evening

Moon close to the Pleiades

The narrow crescent Moon passes just south of the brightest star cluster in the sky, the Pleiades (Messier 45) in Taurus.

Sat., April 9, early evening

Moon close to Messier 35

The six-day-old Moon passes just south another fine star cluster, Messier 35 in Gemini.

Tue., April 19, morning twilight

Mercury and Mars

The planets Mercury and Mars are less than a degree apart in morning twilight. Best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere.

Fri., April 22, morning twilight

Uranus and Venus

Watch as brilliant Venus rises in the east. Look with binoculars or a telescope a degree above and to the left of Venus to spot tiny Neptune. (In the Australia and New Zealand, the conjunction occurs on Saturday morning, April 23, and Uranus will be below and to the left of Venus.)

Sat. April 30, morning twilight

Six Planets

Just before dawn, six planets and the crescent Moon will gather in the dawn sky. From left to right they are Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Uranus, and Neptune.


Mercury is not well placed for most of April, being too close to the Sun. It reappears in the morning sky late in the month.

Venus  is a brilliant “morning star” low in the east all month.

Mars is too close to the Sun to be observed most of April. It reappears in the dawn sky late in the month.

Jupiter is also too close to the Sun to be observed most of April. It reappears in the dawn sky late in the month.

Saturn is visible all night in Virgo, reaching opposition on April 3. Its rings have returned to their usual glory after being on edge for the last two years.

Uranus is in Pisces all month. It is too close to the Sun to be observed most of the month, reappearing at dawn near month’s end.

Neptune is now a morning object in Aquarius, visible in binoculars or a small telescope.

This article was provided to by Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions.