Sky chart

All Month: Evening skies are barren of planets in April. Only Mars remains, dim and low in the early evening. We enjoy an evening moon early in the month and for the last week to help trace out the spring stars. Two morning planets, Saturn and Jupiter, are rising nightly and now spend much of the dark hours above the horizon. Saturn is up soon after 10 p.m., earlier at month's end; Jupiter rises about three hours past midnight on April 1, but two hours earlier at the end of the month. Toward the end of April, Mercury and Venus make their presence known as morning stars. Halley's Comet in April: On the way to perihelion next winter, the comet comes within 400 million miles of the sun this month. Still a faint, small, starlike object in appearance, it is about 450 million miles from earth, racing sunward at about 43,000 m.p.h.

April 1: A waning gibbous moon is well up by dusk. Leo's bright Regulus is beneath it.

April 3: Venus and Mercury move in tandem between earth and sun (inferior conjunction) to become morning stars.

April 5: Full moon (at 6:32 a.m. Eastern standard time) is in Virgo. Spica is the bright star to its left. Perigee (nearest earth) moon comes just 6 hours past full, and will surely affect tides tonight and tomorrow.

April 6: The gibbous moon slips into Libra, approaching Saturn, the bright object to the east. It passes below Saturn Sunday night.

April 9-11: The waning gibbous moon rises after midnight, later each night. Last quarter is at 11:41 p.m. EST on the 11th.

April 13:. Jupiter is the very bright object near the morning moon, from about 3 a.m. EST until dawn.

April 15: Mercury resumes its normal (easterly) motion.

April 17: The moon is just below the vernal equinox about dawn, and Venus is below and to its left. Venus will improve on successive mornings (higher at each dawn), but the morning moon is on its way out of the sky.

April 19-20: Apogee moon (farthest from earth) occurs at about noon (EST) on the 19th; new moon at 12:22 a.m. EST on the 20th.

April 22: Venus resumes a normal easterly drift through the stars, and rises early this morning. The moon covers Mars as it passes the planet at 8 a.m. EST, a daylight event for the southern Atlantic basin where the occultation takes place. A young crescent moon appears in the west, setting during twilight.

April 24: The crescent moon is easier to see tonight, midway between Aldebaran (in Taurus) below it and Pollux and Castor above. Moonset isn't until about 11 p.m. EST.

April 25-26: The moon is in Gemini both nights, forming a threesome with the twin stars Pollux and Castor on the 26th.

April 27: First quarter moon (at 11:25 p.m. EST) is in Cancer. After midnight tonight, clocks are set ahead one hour in communities that adjust to daylight time.

April 28: The gibbous moon moves into Leo, sliding toward the star Regulus during the night. On Monday night it is moving away from Regulus to the left.

April 30: The moon moves from Leo into Virgo, setting about 3 a.m. EST.

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