A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth
Compiled by Steve Sawyer
Hi welcome to Aprils what’s up. We have plenty to look at this month :- Meteors, conjunctions and the spring constellations.
So what’s on this month?
The Lyrid meteor shower returns and peaks around the April 22nd. This meteor shower is caused by debris from Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher burning up in Earth’s atmosphere. The best viewing will be in the early morning hours, and the lack of moonlight will make for excellent viewing conditions.
April is a great time to look for the spring constellations, including Leo, Ursa Major, and Virgo. These constellations will be visible in the evening sky and can be easily identified with the help of a star chart or astronomy app. I itend to review a selection of these apps for next months What’sup
so watch this space.
Please feel free to send any images you may like including in next months what’s up to email@example.com or you can post them to the societies Facebook group for posting any images you wish to share Facebook group link : https://www.facebook.com/groups/yorkastro
|2nd||Moon near Regulus|
|5th||Moon near Regulas|
|10th||Moon near Antares|
|11th||Mercury Elogatiob, Venus near Pleiades|
|13th||Last quarter Moon|
|16th||Moon near Saturn|
|22nd||Moon between Venus and Pleiades. PEAK of the Lyrids|
|23rd||Lyrids, Moon near Venus|
|25th||Moon near Mars|
|26th||Moon near Castor and Pollux|
|28th||Moon near Regulus|
looking South on the 15th at 22:00
Looking North on the 15th at 22:00
The two charts above show all DSOs of magnitude 6.0 or brighter. They are both taken from
SkyViewCafe.com and correct for the 15th of the month. For a clickable list of Messier objects with images, use the Wikipedia link.
The sun has been pretty active during March with serveral geomagnetic storms and Aurora being seen at quite low latitudes. There are no currently forcast CME’s but I’d reccomend keeping a watch on the space weather websites for news.
There’s also a pretty good UK focused facebook group dedicated to spotting and photgraphing Aurora (20+) AUK – Aurora UK | Facebook (note it’s a private group so you have to ask to join)
Locally one of the best places to go is apparently Bempton cliffs as you can get a good Northerly view point. Or Whitby habour at the end of the pier is also a good location.
For more info on the sun and solar weather look here : –
And our own Metoffice have an excellent space weather forecast page here Space Weather – Met Office
The 4th full Moon of 2023 is the Pink Moon
See the sky diary for this months lunar events
A full lunar calendar can be found here :-
One of the best times to view the planet this year is the beginning of the month. You can find Mercury well to the lower right of Venus shining at mag -1.1. But the planet fades into darker skies over the month dimming to +0.1 towards the end of the month. There’s also a feature on Mercury in this months Sky at Night Magazine.
Venis is prominent in the evening sky this month starting at magnitude -4.5 ( On April 27th, the planet reaches a magnitude of -4.7, the brightest it will become this year, also referred to as its “greatest illuminated extent. On the 11th the Pleiades lie just to the right of Venus.
Currently in Gemini and will move towards Castor and Pollux at the end of the month. The planet and these two stars have the same brightness.
Too close to the sun to see this month
A morning planet rising around 5am and moving upwards in the sky as the month progresses.
Can be found not far from Mercury
One main shower this month. The Lyrids will peak on the night between April 22nd and 23rd in 2023 but are active from the 16th. The Lyrid Meteor Shower is one of the oldest meteor showers known, with records dating back to 687 BC.
The Lyrids originate from comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. Comet Thatcher was discovered on April 5th, 1861 by A. E. Thatcher. The radiant of the meteor shower is near the constellation Lyra, the harp. The Lyrids appear to radiate from the area near the star Vega, the brightest star in this constellation.
No easy to see comets this month, the ones listed below start at mag 8 and go to mag 13.
|C/2022 E3 (ZTF)||8|
|C/2020 V2 (ZTF)||9|
|C/2022 A2 (PanSTARRS)||9|
|C/2019 U5 (PanSTARRS)||11|
|C/2022 U2 (ATLAS)||12|
|29P/Schwassmann- Wachmann 1||13|
Deep Sky (DSO’s)
Some DSO’s for you to target this month. Photo’s please to our Facebook group!
I’m picking some of the sights in the constellation Cancer this month. Cancer contains a number of famous deep sky objects including the Beehive cluster (M44), open cluster M67 and spiral galxesies NGC2535 and NGC2536.
Messier 44 (M44), also known as the Beehive Cluster or Praesepe (the Manger), is an open star cluster in the constellation Cancer. Praesepe is a bright, large cluster with an apparent magnitude of 3.7. The cluster contains around 1000 stars the brightest of these are concentrated in the central region.
An easy way to find M44 is to draw a line from Pollux in Gemini to Regulus in Leo. M44 lies about halfway along the line.
Messier 67 (M67) is an open cluster. It was discovered by Johann Gottfried Koehler in 1779. Estimates of its age range between 3.2 and 5 billion years. It has an apparent magnitude of 6.1 and lies at an approximate distance of 2,610 to 2,930 light years from Earth.
M67 is one of the oldest known open clusters, and by far the oldest of Messier’s open clusters. It is also one of the most studied open clusters because it is relatively close to Earth and contains a large number of stars. The cluster has a diameter of about 25 light-years. M67 contains more than 100 stars that are similar in age and chemical composition. The stars in M67 are believed to have formed at the same time from the same cloud of gas and dust.
M67 is also known as the King Cobra cluster or the Golden Eye cluster. The cluster is located in a rich star field that includes several other open clusters. M67 is visible to the naked eye under dark skies and can be seen with binoculars or a small telescope.
NGC2535 and NGC 2536
NGC 2535 is an unbarred spiral galaxy exhibiting a weak inner ring structure around the nucleus in the constellation Cancer that is interacting with NGC 2536. The interaction has warped the disk and spiral arms of NGC 2535, producing an elongated structure, visible at ultraviolet wavelengths, that contain many bright, recently formed blue star clusters in addition to enhanced star forming activity.
ISS and other orbiting bits
I’m having to write this a little earlier in the month than normal/so the dates aren’t currently listed for April. Use the this NASA website for timings York, England, United Kingdom | Sighting Opportunity | Spot The Station | NASA
and of course the sky at night magazine!