Summers are approaching in the northern hemisphere and the sky is in the transition phase. It is time to bid goodbye to winter constellations like Orion and say hello to their summer counterparts like Scorpious. Let us have a look at the top astronomy events for April 2019.
April 2: Conjunction of Moon & Venus
On April 2, at 4:19 GMT (9:49 IST), Moon will pass 2°40' to the south of Venus. The Moon will be 27 days old. The Moon will be at mag -10.0, and Venus at mag -4.0, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
From India, the pair will not be visible at the exact time of conjunction due to daylight. However, the duo can be spotted at dawn as shown in the illustration above. Can you spot Mercury and Neptune nearby?
April 5: New Moon
The moon will be located on the same side of Earth as the sun, making it invisible in the night sky.
April 10: Conjunction of Venus And Neptune
Venus and Neptune will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 0°18' to the south of Neptune on April 10 at 3:43 GMT (9:13 IST). The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible through a pair of binoculars. Venus will be at mag -3.9, and Neptune at mag 8.0, both in the constellation Aquarius.
April 12: Virginid Meteor Shower
The Virginid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 12 April 2019. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 7 April to 18 April.
Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. As pebble-sized pieces of debris collide with the Earth, they burn up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, appearing as shooting stars. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 5 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead.
April 18: Venus At Aphelion
In practice, however, Venus's orbit is very close to circular; its distance from the Sun varies by only about 1.5% between perihelion and aphelion. This makes Venus's orbit more perfectly circular than that of any of the Solar System's other planets. As a result, its surface receives almost exactly the same amount of energy from the Sun at perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) and aphelion (furthest recess from the Sun).
From India, Venus will be difficult to watch as it will appear no higher than 13° above the horizon.
April 19: Pink Moon
The Moon will reach its full phase on April 19 at 11:13 GMT (16:43 UTC). From April 19 onwards, it will start rising an hour late, becoming prominent later in the night. At the full phase, it will be in Virgo at a distance of 368,000 Km. In Native American tribes, this moon was called the Full Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of a type of moss, called ‘pink moss.’ This is one of the most exciting astronomy event for April.
April 23: The Lyrid Meteor Shower
The flagship event of April, the Lyrid meteor shower will peak on April 23.
The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 10 per hour depending on the position of the radiant. The radiant is the point from where all the meteors appear to originate, although they can appear anywhere in the sky. From New Delhi, the radiant of the shower will appear 30° above your north-eastern horizon at midnight. The Moon will be 18 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible.