Episode 315 – Objects to Observe in April 2023 Show Notes

April 1st to the ~21st – Mercury at one of its best evening apparitions reaching greatest elongation (19-degrees from the Sun) on April 11th .

Around April 1st it should become easily visible about 30 minutes after sunset.

Look due west for a bright, -1, orangish flickering star dancing in the twilight glow. It’s in Pisces but you won’t see much of that dim constellation in the bright evening sky.

Just seeing Mercury can be a challenge enough and binoculars will not show any significant detail. Telescopes can show its phase if the atmosphere is steady and if the evening is particularly clear and stable you might make out some ill-defined markings on the planet.

April 1 you’ll see a bright -1 gibbous phase, April 11th 0 magnitude Mercury will appear as a slightly less than a quarter phase and by the 21st a thin crescent glowing at magnitude 2.3 will be tough to pick out in the evening twilight. Note Mercury grows in size as it approaches inferior conjunction on May 1 with the Sun meaning it is passing between us and the Sun although will not transit the Solar Disk. Contrast Booster or an orange filter might help. Use medium high power. 

April 6th Full Moon in Virgo directly beside Spica

Finally the Full Moon is dropping lower meaning we should be getting into warmer weather observing.

I was reading that within ~24hrs of Full Moon the Moon is something like 40% brighter!

April 11th – Venus & Pleiades in Conjunction

April 13th – Best night to see the Gegenschein – faint bright spot overhead opposite the sun. also; Last Quarter Moon sits between Sagittarius and Capricorn

For us the Moon this night is just West (Right) of the Terebellum Asterism which rests on the Sagittarius Capricorn border. However this is made somewhat confusing as Omega also has the proper name Terebellum. A grouping of stars which forms a diamond, cross or quadrangle and comprises Omega Satitarrii at the top, and the Flamsteed numbers stars 59&60 as the outer parts and 62 as the point. Recognizing a grouping since antiquity I’ve also read of this as being called Ptolemey’s Quadrangle as well as the “Boring Tool”.

While not overly bright, these stars are all ~4.5 magnitude, it is the absence of bright stars in this region that makes the pattern pop out on our horizon. In the Chinese language the region is referred to as the Dog Territory. 

April 16th – Saturn 3-degrees north of the Moon in the morning sky for those in Europe, farther for us Shane.

April 20th – New Moon and Hybrid Annular Solar Eclipse. 

Hybrid means it’s Annual at the Sunrise / Sunset points but total in the middle.

So this eclipse is best seen in Indonesia – It does go across Barrow Island in Western Australia…but apparently people aren’t allowed on the island for conservation reasons.

For us we’ll have a consolation prize of a chance to view a 21hr old Moon 5-degrees above the horizon. Wait for sun to set.

April 21st – For the middle of North America  we see a nice line up of Mercury the Moon & Venus.

April 22nd – Moon and Pleiades for some but not us

April 23rd – Moon & Venus as close as 1.3-degrees for some…alas not us again!

You need to be much farther east than North America, UK would be much better.

April 26th – Mars 3 degrees south of the Moon we get this one in Gemini!

April 27th – First Quarter Moon

All Month Venus just gets better and Better as it approaches it’s greatest evening elongation on June 4th.  Considering how high up it is now this should be a spectacular show and hopefully many evening opportunities will abound where we can set our scopes on our nearest neighbour. I have already spotted some dusky clouds on the cloud tops and a couple bright spots on the north polar region. Best to use higher powers to overcome the brilliance and a filter, either neutral density or the Baader Contrast Booster. So don’t use low power and get turned off, it will always have some ripple to it just because it’s so bright. On my 60mm I’m using 100x, or just over 1.5x the aperture in mm. So in my 100 that’ll be about 145x with the 5mm. Begins April -4 14.1 arc second 77% Gibbous phase. Ends the Month in a Gibbous phase -4.1 66% and 17 Arc Seconds. 

Comets or should I say comet since only 1 comet just scratches into 10th magnitude with c/2020 V2 ZTF in Triangulum. Another one from the Zwicky Transit Facility. Will reach 9.5 mag in Sept. 

One wild card comet pick in 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann on the Gemini Aurigae border…this has a history of sudden outbursts into the 1st magnitude and it has brighted into the 11th magnitude recently placing it as a target for 8-inch and larger scopes.

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