Monthly Skywatchers' Page

For London and the UK

Sun And Nine Planets
The Sun and eight major planets (plus KBO Pluto) to scale. Earth is third planet from the left.


Introduction

The location of the stars and constellations can be learnt throughout a single year from books, mobile phone applications or planetarium software. Each month of the year, the same stars are visible from a given location. Different stars and constellations are visible as the year progresses. For example, in London, the constellation of Orion is always visible in the evenings of winter months of January and February. Scorpius is visible in the summer months of June and July around midnight.

The planets resemble stars except that, generally, they do not twinkle. Unlike the stars whose patterns are fixed, planets wander through the sky changing their positions amongst the starry background. This means that their periods of visibility change as the relative position of the Earth, Sun and planet vary. In one year Mars may be visible in August at midnight. In another year it may be behind the Sun and invisible from Earth during August.

This page gives the details of visibility for the five naked eye planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. It also gives information about comets, meteor showers and non-regular phenomena like eclipses, transits and occultations.

The Observers' Glossary explains the terms used. Alternatively run the mouse cursor over terms in maroon.


The descriptions below are for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, especially London and the United Kingdom.
The planetary information is valid for any location at the same or similar Latitude (51.5°N).
Note that a degree in the sky is twice the apparent diameter of the Moon.

All times on this page are London (UK) times. This is normally GMT (Greenwich Mean Time also known as Universal Time).
In the United Kingdom, the clocks go forward by one hour for British Summer Time (BST) between mid March and late October.
A 24 hour clock is used so that 7pm is written 19:00.


April 2019

Mercury

Mercury

Mercury is too close to the Sun to be visible this month.

Venus

Venus

Venus is now rising less than an hour before dawn and is now longer visible.

Mars

Mars

Mars begins the month in Taurus between the beautiful star cluster, the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) and the Hyades star cluster.

The Moon will be close to Mars on 8th and 9th.

The planet will be setting just after midnight throughout the month.

Jupiter

Jupiter

Jupiter rises at 01:45 at the beginning of the month and is now prominent in the southern sky by dawn. The Moon will be close to the planet on 23rd.

The planet is among the stars of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer.

The red star close to Jupiter is Antares, the brightest star of Scorpius. Jupiter will remain close to this star throughout most of 2019.

Through a small telescope the planet's four large moons can be seen resembling little stars, changing position night to night.

By the end of the month Jupiter will be rising around 12:15.

Saturn

Saturn

Saturn begins the month rising around 03:30.

The planet is among the stars of Sagittarius and is close to the Moon on 25th and 26th.

Throughout the month, Saturn is visible to the left of the much brighter Jupiter.

By the end of the month, the planet will be rising after 2am. A small telescope will show the famous rings.

Sun

The Sun

Following the Spring Equinox in March, the Sun continues to move Northwards during April. This causes the days to get longer. At the beginning of the month the day is 12 hours 56 minutes long. By the end of April the day length is 14 hours 46 minutes, an increase of 1 hour 50 minutes.

The time of sunset begins the month at 19:33 and ends the month at 20:21, nearly an hour later.

At the beginning of the month the time of midday is 13:04 (remember the clocks are one hour ahead now). By the end of April the time of midday has drifted back to 12:57. The time of midday is at 13:00 for four days around the 14th. On these dates sun time (as measured by a sundial) agrees with clock time. This only happens four times a year.

The Sun begins the month in Pisces and enters Aries on 18th.

Note that the astronomical Zodiac dates (the actual Zodiac dates) do not tie in with astrology as astrologers are using dates from two thousand years ago.

Date Sunrise Midday Sunset Length of Day Sun's Noon Altitude Notes
28-Mar
05:45
12:05
18:26
12h 40m
41.5°
Morning Half Moon
29-Mar
05:43
12:05
18:28
12h 44m
41.9°
Moon close to Saturn
30-Mar
05:41
12:05
18:29
12h 48m
42.3°
 
Clocks go FORWARD by ONE HOUR
31-Mar
06:39
13:04
19:31
12h 52m
42.7°
 
01-Apr
06:36
13:04
19:33
12h 56m
43.0°
 
02-Apr
06:34
13:04
19:34
13h 00m
43.4°
13 hour day
03-Apr
06:32
13:03
19:36
13h 04m
43.8°
 
04-Apr
06:30
13:03
19:38
13h 08m
44.2°
 
05-Apr
06:27
13:03
19:39
13h 12m
44.6°
New Moon at 09:50
06-Apr
06:25
13:02
19:41
13h 16m
45.0°
 
07-Apr
06:23
13:02
19:43
13h 19m
45.3°
 
08-Apr
06:21
13:02
19:44
13h 23m
45.7°
Moon close to Mars
09-Apr
06:18
13:02
19:46
13h 27m
46.1°
Moon close to Mars
10-Apr
06:16
13:01
19:48
13h 31m
46.5°
 
11-Apr
06:14
13:01
19:49
13h 35m
46.8°
 
12-Apr
06:12
13:01
19:51
13h 39m
47.2°
Evening Half Moon
13-Apr
06:10
13:01
19:53
13h 43m
47.5°
 
14-Apr
06:07
13:00
19:54
13h 47m
47.9°
Midday at 1pm
15-Apr
06:05
13:00
19:56
13h 50m
48.3°
 
16-Apr
06:03
13:00
19:58
13h 54m
48.6°
 
17-Apr
06:01
13:00
20:00
13h 58m
49.0°
8pm sunset
18-Apr
05:59
12:59
20:01
14h 02m
49.3°
14 hour day
19-Apr
05:57
12:59
20:03
14h 06m
49.7°
Full Moon at 22:12 (Virgo)
20-Apr
05:55
12:59
20:05
14h 09m
50.0°
 
21-Apr
05:53
12:59
20:06
14h 13m
50.4°
 
22-Apr
05:50
12:59
20:08
14h 17m
50.7°
 
23-Apr
05:48
12:58
20:10
14h 21m
51.0°
Moon close to Jupiter
24-Apr
05:46
12:58
20:11
14h 24m
51.4°
 
25-Apr
05:44
12:58
20:13
14h 28m
51.7°
Moon close to Saturn
26-Apr
05:42
12:58
20:14
14h 32m
52.0°
Morning Half Moon - Moon close to Saturn
27-Apr
05:40
12:58
20:16
14h 35m
52.3°
 
28-Apr
05:38
12:58
20:18
14h 39m
52.7°
 
29-Apr
05:36
12:57
20:19
14h 42m
53.0°
 
30-Apr
05:35
12:57
20:21
14h 46m
53.3°
 

Moon

The Moon

The Moon will be close to Mars on 8th.

The Moon will be close to Mars on 9th.

The Moon will be close to Jupiter on 23rd.

The Moon will be close to Saturn on 25th.

The Moon will be close to Saturn on 26th.


It is easy to depend on astronomy or CMMS software to perform daily computational activities and to keep track of data. Astronomy enthusiasts can choose from a wide variety of software options, while facility managers may have fewer options if they require CMMS software for their business.


Next Month

Mars in the evening. Venus, Jupiter and Saturn in the morning.


All times on this page are London (UK) times.

Sources: Astronomy Now magazine, Cybersky, Starry Night Pro, USA Naval Observatory and UK Nautical Almanac Office.

© 2018 KryssTal
All sky images by Starry Night Pro Plus 6
Eclipse predictions (maps) courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC


Books From Amazon.co.uk


Observers' Glossary

An explanation of the terms used by sky observers. Includes descriptions of how the objects of the solar system behave in the sky as seen from Earth (especially the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes).


KryssTal Related Pages

Tables and data about the Sun, Earth, Moon, planets, asteroids and comets. All terms used are explained.

An account of how various properties of stars can be measured by studying starlight. Includes brightness, distance, luminosity, temperature, mass, radius, density and an introduction to the H-R Diagram.

A table containing a list of the 20 brightest stars in the Earth's sky. Explanations of all the associated terms like magnitude, spectral type and radial velocity.

A detailed account about eclipses, transits and occultations. These are irregular phenomena that can be observed in the sky. Includes eclipse trips around the world with photos and well as photos of recent transists of Mercury and Venus.

An easy-to-understand scaling of the Universe in space. Distances in space are represented by the time light takes to travel there.

An easy-to-understand scaling of the Universe in time. The chronology of the Universe is compared to a real year.

How humanity came from believing Creation Myths to postulating the Inflationary Big Bang Theory. The key stages in our understanding of our place in the cosmos and the people who broadened our understanding.

What do we mean by the words day, week, month, year? Who invented our calendar? When did the third millennium begin? The relation between time and astronomy.

The force that moves apples and planets. A short introduction to the ideas of Kepler and Newton that culminated with the theory of Universal Gravitation.

A look at the mathematics of a sphere with a section on sundials and the equation of time.


External Skywatching Links

These links will open in a separate window

StarDate Online
An excellent online skywatchers' magazine featuring detailed monthly information about astronomical events.

Astronomy Picture of the Day
A different image each day with an extensive archive and explanations.

Society for Popular Astronomy
Monthly planet and star gazing details with maps for young people.

Telescope House
A London based source of astronomical equipment, telescopes, software, maps and books.

Southern Sky Watch
Sky watchers information for the southern hemisphere.

Starry Night Pro
Superb planetarium software. Simulate the sky from anywhere on the Earth and any time.