April Bright Planets and Stars
The Moon, the Earth’s limb, and thin blue atmosphere are seen in this photograph taken by an Expedition 51 crew member.NASA
Welcome the Almanac Sky Watch for April 2019! We’re here to help backyard stargazers navigate the night sky—from bright planets to constellations.
Sky Watch April 2019
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac
- Mercury is now a morning star and on the 1st participates in an alignment low in the east some 40 minutes before sunrise: Look to see, from highest to lowest, the Moon, Venus, and Mercury.
- On the 2nd, the Moon is below Venus, with Mercury to their left.
- Jupiter, brightening steadily, now appears several hours before sunrise, high enough for useful telescopic observation at dawn.
- Saturn is marginally high enough, too, but its rings are not as wide open as they’ve been in recent years.
- Mars, now in Taurus and fading, stands above the fat waxing crescent Moon on the 8th.
Near the end of April, the Moon pays a visit to Jupiter and Saturn for a spot of tea.
- On the 23rd, look south before sunrise to spy the waning, gibbous Moon only half a degree (or half a finger’s width) above Jupiter.
- As dawn begins to brighten on Wednesday morning, the 24th, the waning gibbous Moon shines almost midway between Jupiter to its right and Saturn to its left.
- As dawn begins on Thursday morning (the 25th), the waning Moon meets Saturn, hanging a bit more than 1 degree below the Ringed Planet. The bright “star” nearby (to the right) is Jupiter.
- By Friday (the 26th), the Moon has moved past the planet Saturn, hovering just to the left.
- Orion, the Hunter, brightest of all constellations, is well placed for viewing. This is the time of year when Orion stands straight upright due south. The three stars of Orion’s belt form a straight horizontal line, with ruddy star Betelgeuse above them and blue-white Rigel below.
- On any April evening, look for the Big Dipper shining in the northeast sky. It’s one of the most recognizable star patterns. See how to find the Big Dipper.
- From Gemini, we move left and downward to the tiny constellation Canis Minor, the Lesser Dog. Only the presence of the bright star Procyon makes Canis Minor noteworthy. Your eyes will most likely be drawn to the bright star Sirius in Canis Major, the Greater Dog. Sirius is more than just an ordinary bright star; it is the brightest star in the night sky. Here’s how to find Sirius and the Dogs.
See our April Sky Map for a free, printable star chart to navigate the night sky!