(WVNS) — StormTracker 59 Meteorologist Bradley Wells is back with another look at the upcoming celestial events that will delight our region all month long. With the month of April upon us, those of us in the two Virginia’s will be treated to a meteor shower, the Pink Moon, and more! Remember to bookmark this page so you and your family can enjoy all that the April night sky has to offer.
The following events are marked as follows below for your convenience.
NAKED EYE EVENT:
The event is visible without the aid of binoculars or telescopes in dark sky conditions.
The event is enhanced by the use or requires a hobby telescope or binoculars
LARGE TELESCOPE EVENT:
A large (8-10 inch) professional telescope is required to view the event.
Light Pollution Matters
From the city to the remote mountain roads across our region, the darker your skies, the better stargazing opportunity there is. City lights can block out the stars while remote locations allow you to see our very own Milky Way! When heading out, remember, dark skies matter.
April Moon Phases:
Every Thursday this month the moon will enter a new phase with the first on Thursday, April 6th as the full moon rises. Find out more on this months full moon below!
APRIL 4th – GOOD BYE WINTER…TRIANGLE – NAKED EYE EVENT: In November, 3 bright stars form a triangle in the night sky known as the winter triangle. Sirius, Alpha Canis Minoris, and Betelgeuse are bright even during a full moon. Betelgeuse, the famous dimming star is also part of the Orion constellation. In April, this star cluster start to fall closer to the horizon in the south-western sky and will eventually set. A celestial goodbye to the winter season, some would say.
APRIL 6th – FULL PINK MOON – NAKED EYE EVENT: The full moon in April is known as “The Pink Moon” but not because it turns pink like social media would have your believe. The name comes from forest wildflowers that bloom in April. Native American tribes around the Great Lakes used to call the April full moon, “the Maple Sap Boiling Moon” in a rough translation. About the time of year it gets warm enough to harvest Maple trees. The moon also carries the name “The Goose Moon, The Sucker Moon, and the The Flower Moon.
APRIL 10th – VENUS AND THE SEVEN SISTERS – TELESCOPE EVENT: Our sister planet, Venus finds itself in a cluster of a party joining forces with Messier 45 or the Seven Sisters. The star cluster can be spotted with the naked eye as a blue smudge on the sky but telescope are the best way to see this group of stars located over 440 light-years away. The light you see left these stars in 1500’s! Venus will be one of the brightest objects in the sky giving telescope users a guide post to find Messier 45. Binocular users will be able to see Venus and the Seven Sisters together in the same field of view. Once every 8 years, Venus passes through this star cluster with the next in April of 2028. This year, Venus will be just south of the cluster.
APRIL 16th – THE MOON GETS RINGED – NAKED EYE EVENT: In the early morning hours of the 16th, look towards the southeastern horizon to find a faint crescent moon. Just to the north of the moon (above) you’ll find the semi-bright object, Saturn. The two dance their way towards the horizon giving early morning photographers a cool night sky conjunction to capture just as the sun rises. Telescope users will get a nice window to see the mountain tops along the terminator of the moon while gazing upon the rings of Saturn brightly lit.
APRIL 20th – THE SUN GOES DARK – NAKED EYE EVENT A new moon is when the farside of the moon is lit by our sun resulting in a moonless night. One this day however, a brief solar eclipse will occur for those in Australia and parts of Indonesia. Look for reputable live streams via NASA or YouTube. For us, it’ll be one of the best nights for stargazing since a moonless night is perfect for telescope users to capture the more faint objects in the night sky. It’s also a good night to spot a shooting star or simply enjoy the wonders of the night sky.
APRIL 21st – TRIO OF FRIENDS: NAKED EYE EVENT / TELESCOPE EVENT: Just after sunset the new crescent moon begins to emerge in the west-northwest sky. Here it is joined by a bright Mercury and very faint Uranus. While naked eye sky watchers will find the moon and Mercury with no issue, the planet Uranus will be too dim to see without the aid of a telescope. The moon will be just north of the two planets along the horizon.
APRIL 22nd / 23rd – SHOOTING STARS! NAKED EYE EVENT – As our months get warmer, the prospect of night sky gazing becomes more popular and this month hosts a treat for the early birds. The Lyrids Meteor Shower peaks around 9pm Saturday, April 22nd and lasting until the early morning hours of the 23rd. These shooting stars look to radiate from Vega, a rather bright star in the eastern sky. While not a huge meteor count with just 15-20 an hour, the Lyrids has been known to cause fireballs. With little moonlight, it’ll be a great start to the spring and summer meteor shower calendar. Those in urban areas should move away from city lights for best viewing.
APRIL 23rd – VENUS GETS A FRIEND NAKED EYE EVENT: Just after sunset look towards the western sky to find our crescent moon and another bright object, Venus. The pair will dance until midnight when they finally set.
APRIL 25th – TRADING PARTNERS NAKED EYE EVENT: Our moon will be very busy towards the end of April as it joins forces with another planet. This time our near half moon pairs up with Mars in the evening sky. The reddish dim planet will be just a few finger lengths away from our moon making it an easy target to find.
APRIL 30th – TAURUS AND VENUS NAKED EYE EVENT: As our sister planet moves around the sky, on this night it’ll find itself between the horns of the constellation Taurus. For this encounter, looks towards the western sky.
Wallops Island, VA is home to a NASA launch site which gives us in the two Virginias a chance to see a rocket launch without leaving home. When the weather works in our favor, and launches take place at night, many rockets from this facility are visible to us just minutes after launch.
- April, 24th, 2023 – Day Launch of SubTEC-9