Night Sky for April 2021

April 2021 Guide to the Bright Planets

By Bob Berman
April 10, 2021
Crescent Moon

Waxing crescent Moon, only 33 hours old in Alberta, Canada.

Stan Cholak

Here’s the April 2021 guide to the night sky! Earth Day brings a meteor shower and the month ends with the first of two Supermoons this year! Bob Berman tells us what’s up in the sky this month with helpful viewing tips.

Sky Watch April 2021

by Bob Berman, as featured in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

April 5 brings the Last Quarter Moon, my favorite Moon phase; it’s high and prominent in the sky. See your Moon Phase Calendar.  While the full Moon may be bright, the Last Quarter Moon shows off the Moon’s craters and geography. Take a look!

Planet Highlights

Southeast before sunrise

  • On April 6, look for Saturn as the “star” above the waxing crescent Moon, with much brighter Jupiter to the left.
  • On the 7th, Jupiter floats above the Moon; look for Saturn to their upper right.

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West after sunset

  • On April 15, in the western evening sky, use the young waxing crescent Moon to find the bright star Aldebaran; the Moon hovers to the right of this very bright star which is known as the “Eye of Taurus.” 
  • On April 16, red-orange Mars appears about 7 degrees above the waxing crescent Moon; look first for the Moon above the western horizon in evening twilight. Note: Mars isn’t half as bright as Aldebaran. 
  • On the 17th, planet Mars appears to the lower right of the Moon. It will also appear to have shifted to the other side of Mars. 

Don’t bother seeking planet Venus; our nearest planet neighbor lurks behind the Sun during March and April, never more than 9 degrees from the blinding disk. However, here’s a cool phenomonon we call the “Belt of Venus.’

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Belt of Venus

April 22 is Earth Day–an annual opportunity to collectively appreciate the wonder and beauty of our home planet. Look at the sunset in the West and then spin yourself around to face East. What do you see near the horizon?

  • You’ll often notice a band of pink or orange-hued sky with a blueish band underneath. 
  • These bands move upward following  sunset to form an arch over the sky that slowly fades as night sets in.
  • The dark blue band is Earth’s shadow rising. Above it, the rosy-hued band is known as the “Belt of Venus.” The “Belt of Venus” forms an arch with Earth’s shadow at sunset! It’s a beautiful sight.

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Earth Day Meteor Shower

Also, on Earth Day (April 22), the annual Lyrid meteor shower is expected to peak early in the morning! One of the oldest known meteor showers, the first recorded sighting of the Lyrids dates back to 687 BC in China—more than 2,700 years ago! In dark skies, it’s a moderately active meteor shower with 10 to 20 meteors per hour.

The best viewing time for the Lyrids is moonset to dawn. For tips, see the 2021 Meteor Shower Calendar.

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April Full Moon: First Supermoon of 2021

On April 26, the full Moon for April rises at 11:31 p.m Eastern Time, 10:31 p.m. Central Time, 9:31 p.m. Mountain Time and 8:31 p.m. Pacific Time.

April’s full Moon is our first of only two Supermoons of 2021 (the second is in May). See more about Supermoons.

Here at the Almanac, we call the April full moon the Pink Moon. No, it’s not the color pink!  Find out why and enjoy our Full April Moon Guide.

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See the Almanac’s Bright Planets Calculator to find out when planets rises and sets from your backyard. Just type in your zip code!

You can also check the Almanac’s Moonrise and Moonset calculator.

Source: 

The 2021 Old Farmer's Almanac

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Reader Comments

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A Rockwell

My husband explained to me that planets don’t twinkle and that is one way to distinguish them from stars. There is a wonderful website called Stellarium, They also make a very useful app for your phone. You can set your location and look at how the sky looks from your location. You can advance forward or backwards in time by minutes, hours, even months or years. You can get into the settings and decide how much information you want, I have names of brightest stars, planets, the celestial equator and the meridian but I don’t have much more set right now because the map gets too cluttered. I keep it simple. I have learned so much from this! Hope this helps you!

Planets~

Thanks for explaining the locations of the Planets this month April; I'll print this to use during the nitetime sky;

Planets v Stars~

What the best way to tell which star is a planet or a star ? I think I see bright planets towards north + east; one planet is bigger than all the stars; it faces north; I see the Big Dipper~