(WVNS) — Stormtracker59 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 even a comet! Remember to bookmark this page so you and your family can enjoy all 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.
TELESCOPE EVENT: 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.
APRIL (ALL MONTH LONG) – PLANETARY PARTY CONTINUES: NAKED EYE EVENT – The planetary party continues into the month of April with Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury joining together in the pre-dawn sky. Look east all month long 90 minutes before sunrise to see these 5 planets. Things get interesting near the end of the month with this group which I touch on below.
APRIL 1st – NEW MOON : NAKED EYE EVENT: We kick off the month of April with a new moon. The first few days of April will be great for night sky viewing thanks to low light conditions. The moon becomes fuller with each passing day. The crescent moon will delight early morning risers with a rare treat for the end of the month with the next new moon April 30th. Continue on for details.
APRIL 5th -GOD OF WAR GETS A RING NAKED EYE EVENT: Mars and Saturn nearly touch in the early morning sky on April 5th. The red planet and the famous rings of Saturn will give early morning risers a treat. Mars will look like a small reddish dot in the eastern sky next to the larger, brighter dot Saturn.
APRIL 4th- ISS INBOUND NAKED EYE EVENT – The two Virginia’s will be treated to an International Space Station fly by on this night. The ISS will appear as a slow moving star appearing in the northwest sky around 8:29 P.M. It will then traverse the night sky above your head towards the southeast sky and disappearing taking roughly 7 minutes to make the trip.
APRIL 16th – PINK MOON: NAKED EYE EVENT – April’s full moon rises this night and is known as the “Pink Moon.” Despite what social media tries to make you think, the moon doesn’t actually turn pink. The name is given, in part, to the April full moon rising around the same time as a common flowering plant, the creeping phlox or moss phlox. The plant also carries the name pink moss and blooms around this time of the year. This full moon is also known as the “Paschal” moon being it is the first full moon of the spring season. March’s full moon occurred 4 days before spring officially began on March 20th.
APRIL 21st – COMET WATCH TELESCOPE EVENT – A newly discovered comet is expected to pass by our sun this month. The comet is named C/2021 O3 PanSTARRS. The first time visitor to our solar system will increase in brightness all month long so telescope users be on the look out! The comet is thought to have come from the Oort Cloud and will reach escape velocity as it travels around our sun. This means the comet will exit our solar system, never to return. The comet is expected to pass by our sun at 26.6 million miles and reach upwards of 750-800 degrees Fahrenheit. If the comet can survive the encounter with our sun, it may become visible in the northwestern sky between April 23rd through May 8th. The comet will be about 51 million miles away from Earth as it passes or 200 times the distance of the moon. Astronomers say it’s still too soon to know if this object will be bright enough for a NAKED EYE EVENT but admit there is a chance.
APRIL 22nd – SHOOTING STARS: NAKED EYE EVENT – It has been some time since we’ve had noteworthy meteor shower in our region. Our meteor dry spell comes to an end with the Lyrids Meteor Showers. Beginning April 16th and lasting until the 30th, night sky watchers will have a decent chance of seeing their own shooting star. While the Lyrids peak activity is short lived, there is hope for those looking to head out for their best chance of spotting one of these meteorites on the 22nd. The Waxing Gibbous (61% full) moon doesn’t rise until after midnight giving folks dark skies early on for great viewing. Look northeast near the star Vega in the Lyra constellation.
APRIL 23rd – SHRINKING MOON: NAKED EYE EVENT – As we begin to close out the month, our moon “shrinks” now until the 30th. From quarter full to crescent moon to new moon once again, our early morning moon will put on a dazzling show dancing with our early morning planets from now until the end of the month. Look north-northeast for the rest of the month before sunrise to see our moon slide past 5 planets.
APRIL 25th – 30th – GOOD NIGHT MOON: NAKED EYE EVENT– Early morning risers have been treated to a planetary party all month long but it’s time for our moon to say good night. As our Waxing Crescent moon sets each morning, it’ll dance along wth Saturn, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter. Each morning the moon will dance with a new partner from the 25th through the 30th. Look northeast just before sunrise to see which planet the moon is with each day.
APRIL 28th – MERCURY, IS THAT YOU? NAKED EYE EVENT– Most planets have a small window for best viewing. For the closest planet to our sun Mercury, its “best face” will be shown the morning of April 28th. On this morning, Mercury slides to it’s farthest position away from the sun allowing us on Earth a great opportunity to view it.
TELESCOPE EVENT: A rare treat for telescope users to view the elusive Mercury a bit longer than usual.
APRIL 30th – THE BLACK MOON NAKED EYE EVENT– While two full moons in a single month is called a “Blue Moon”, two new moons in one month is called a “Black Moon”. On April 30th, we’ll observe a “Black Moon” and end the month exactly how we started. Those in the Southern Hemisphere along the coast of Chile and through the south Pacific ocean towards Antarctica will be treated to a partial solar eclipse this day.
Don’t forget to bookmark this page so you don’t miss a single event!