Here’s the April 2020 guide to the night sky. See Bob Berman’s viewing tips to enjoy the night wonders!
Sky Watch April 2020
by Bob Berman, as featured in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Venus is that unbelievably dazzling evening “star” you’ve probably already noticed. You don’t need a star chart. It’s the brightest object in the night sky except for the Moon. Just look toward the western skies at nightfall.
- On Friday night, April 3, Venus parades in front of the Pleiades (aka Seven Sisters) star cluster. Look west after sunset. Venus is the brightest object in the sky and impossible to miss. It’s so dazzling that it’s bright enough to cast faint shadows. See more on my post on The Best Evening Star of Your Life.
- The year’s closest Moon is on April 7, 2020. It’s in the full phase, so the media will call it a “supermoon,” even if the super size may not be apparent to observers. See the Almanac’s Guide to the April Full Pink Moon.
The other planets—Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn—all rise before the Sun. Mercury rises near the sunrise point on the horizon in the predawn sky.
- On April 15, the Moon hovers below the three bright planets—Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—in the morning sky. This striking conjunction rises by 4:00 a.m. and is well seen in the southeast as dawn begins. Then, on April 16, the Moon will summit with the god of war, Mars, passing 3.5 degrees below and to the left of the Red Planet. Start looking low to the east-southeast horizon soon after 4 a.m. as the pair slowly ascends.
- On April 25 and 26, look towards the Moon after sunset to find Venus. In Taurus, the dazzling evening star reaches her brightest and highest at a shadow-casting magnitude –4.7. Venus stands above the Moon on the 25th, and to the Moon’s right on the 26th.
The Brightest Star in the Sky
Sirius is nicknamed “the Dog Star,” because it’s the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major. Sirius is super easy to locate: Just face toward the south and look for Orion. The three bright stars that make up Orion’s belt point downward, toward Sirius. See my post on Sirius, The Brightest Star in the Sky Tonight.
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.