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April 2024 Astronomy Events

April 2024 Astronomy Events

AstroTelescopium Team |

As we usher in April 2024, the night sky prepares to unveil astronomical wonders. From the glow of distant galaxies to the displays of meteor showers and the beauty of a full moon, this month is a treasure trove for stargazers.

We kick off the month with the Sombrero Galaxy taking center stage on April 1st. Not far behind, Messier 94 lights up the night sky on April 4th, followed by the opposition of asteroid 532 Herculina and the spectacle of a total solar eclipse on the 8th. The dance of planets follows, with Saturn and Mars drawing near in a conjunction on the 10th, while the Whirlpool Galaxy and Messier 3 remind us of their boundless beauty on the 14th and 17th, respectively.

Mid-month, 136108 Haumea takes its turn at opposition on April 20th, setting the stage for the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower and the well-placed Pinwheel Galaxy on the 22nd. The celestial symphony concludes with the Full Pink Moon illuminating the night on April 23rd.

Whether you're a seasoned astronomer with your telescope at the ready, or a casual observer looking up in wonder, April's lineup of celestial events promises to captivate and inspire.


11 Skywatching Highlights for April 2024

  • 4/1: Sombrero Galaxy is well placed
  • 4/4: Messier 94 is well placed
  • 4/8: Asteroid 532 Herculina at opposition
  • 4/8: Total Solar Eclipse
  • 4/10: Saturn and Mars conjunction
  • 4/14: Whirlpool Galaxy is well placed
  • 4/17: Messier 3 is well placed
  • 4/20: 136108 Haumea at opposition
  • 4/22: Lyrid meteor shower peak
  • 4/22: Pinwheel Galaxy is well placed
  • 4/23: Full Pink Moon


Before diving in, let's clarify some astronomical terms:

Magnitude - Magnitude is the measure of a celestial object's brightness, with lower numbers indicating greater brightness. The naked eye can perceive objects as dim as roughly magnitude +6.0 without optical assistance.

Right Ascension (RA) - Right ascension is the celestial equivalent of geographic longitude, measured from the Sun's position during March Equinox at 00h00m00s (h=hours, m=minutes, s=seconds). This measurement increases eastward until completing a full circle at 24h00m00s.

Declination (DEC) - Declination is the celestial equivalent of geographic latitude, measured in degrees (°), minutes ('), and seconds ("). The celestial equator has a declination of 0°0'0", the north celestial pole is at +90°0'0", and the south celestial pole is at -90°0'0".

AU (astronomical unit) - This unit measures the average distance from the Earth to the Sun, about 93 million miles. It helps gauge distances within our solar system.

Angular Size - This describes how large a celestial object appears from Earth, measured in arcminutes (') and arcseconds ("). One arcminute is 1/60th of a degree, and one arcsecond is 1/60th of an arcminute.



April 2024: Essential Astronomical Events to Highlight in Your Calendar


April 1st: Unveiling the Splendor of the Sombrero Galaxy

Get ready for an astronomical treat on April 1st. The Sombrero Galaxy, or M104, will be taking the spotlight in the Virgo constellation. If you're a night owl, you're in for a surprise because at around midnight, this galaxy will be at its prime viewing spot, high up in the sky.

The Sombrero Galaxy isn't just your regular celestial object; it's got a bit of flair. With a bright center that's circled by a dark band of dust, it looks just like a sombrero hat tossed into the sky. Plus, it's surrounded by a shimmering halo of about 2,000 globular clusters that sparkle like a string of pearls in the darkness.

If you're hanging out in the southern hemisphere, you'll have a VIP view. And for everyone else between 58°N and 81°S, you haven't been left out—you can join in on the stargazing fun, too.

Now, don't expect the Sombrero Galaxy to be the brightest star of the show. It's more understated with a magnitude of 8.6, so you won't see it with the naked eye. But that's what makes it special. Just whip out your binoculars or a telescope, and you can turn a seemingly faint star into an awe-inspiring sight.

Sombrero Galaxy on 4/1

  • Magnitude: +8.6
  • Right ascension: 12h39m50s
  • Declination: 11°37'S
  • Constellation: Virgo


April 4th: A Starburst Spectacle with Messier 94's Grand Ascension

Come April 4th, if the night sky is your theater, be sure to grab the best seat available because Messier 94, a bewitching spiral galaxy, will be stealing the spotlight in the Canes Venatici constellation. When the clock edges close to midnight, look upwards; that's when M94 will be soaring to its highest and most glorious position in the sky, offering a celestial spectacle you won’t want to miss.

Messier 94 is a starburst galaxy, which means it's in the middle of a cosmic growth spurt, forming new stars at a rate that would make other galaxies envious. What's more, it’s encircled by a ring—a region brimming with hot, young stars and the mysteries of potential planetary births.

For those of you gazing up from the northern hemisphere, the conditions are just perfect to witness this natural marvel. However, for our friends further south, below 28°S, it's a bit elusive—similar to a distant melody you can't quite catch.

And yes, M94 is a little on the discreet side with its magnitude of 8.2, a soft glow in the dark expanse. But this doesn't mean it's beyond our reach. With the humble assistance of a pair of binoculars or the lens of a small telescope, this galaxy's delicate light and energy can be brought into your view.

Messier 94 on 4/4

  • Magnitude: +8.2
  • Right ascension: 12h50m50s
  • Declination: 41°07'N
  • Constellation: Canes Venatici


April 8th: The Stellar Showcase of Asteroid 532 Herculina at Opposition

On April 8th, Asteroid 532 Herculina will be in prime viewing position, nestled in the constellation of Bootes. No matter where you are on our planet, this celestial wanderer will climb to the zenith of the night sky as the clock nears midnight.

During this prime time, 532 Herculina will be at opposition, a spectacular alignment where it stands directly across from the Sun, as seen from our vantage point on Earth. With the Sun tucked away beneath the horizon, Herculina will seize the opportunity to shine in its full glory.

The thrill doesn’t end there—this is also when 532 Herculina cozies up to Earth for its perigee, its closest approach to us, making it appear at its most luminous against the night canvas. Imagine a straight line drawn from the Sun, through the Earth, reaching Herculina—that's the cosmic conga line we're talking about, with Earth having front-row seats to the show.

While 532 Herculina will be a mere 1.352 astronomical units from Earth, with a brightness of magnitude 9.1, it still won't be vying for attention with the naked eye. But with the right gear—a trusty pair of binoculars or a telescope with a moderate aperture—you can catch a glimpse of this shy space rock as it parades across the night sky.

532 Herculina on 4/8

  • Magnitude: +9.1
  • Right ascension: 13h53m10s
  • Declination: 18°46'N
  • Constellation: Bootes


April 8th: The Great American Eclipse

On April 8, 2024, prepare to witness an extraordinary spectacle in the sky: a total solar eclipse that will carve its way across the South Pacific Ocean before sweeping over North America in a stunning display of celestial dynamics. The spectacle kicks off on Mexico's Pacific coast at about 11:07 a.m. PDT, signaling the start of an unforgettable journey across the continent.

The eclipse's trajectory will cover a swath of North America, making landfall in the United States from Texas and meandering through a series of states: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It doesn't stop there; the eclipse will then grace Canada, crossing Southern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, before it bids adieu off the Atlantic shores of Newfoundland at 5:16 p.m. NDT.

Seize this rare chance, as the next total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States won't happen again until August 23, 2044. During the totality phase, when the Moon completely covers the Sun, you'll have a brief window to marvel at the Sun's corona directly, without the need for eye protection—a truly mesmerizing moment. Remember, looking directly at the Sun at any other time is a no-go unless you have special solar viewing glasses to avoid serious eye damage.

Sun on 4/8

  • Angular size: 31'56"
  • Right ascension: 1h10m
  • Declination: 7°27'N
  • Constellation: Pisces


April 10th: The Celestial Ballet of Saturn and Mars in Aquarius

On the evening of April 10th, Saturn and Mars will align in such a way that they share the same right ascension, with Saturn gracefully passing just 28 arcminutes to the south of Mars.

This astronomical rendezvous is not just about crossing paths; it's also an event known as an appulse, where the two celestial bodies make their closest approach to one another from our vantage point on Earth.

Glowing softly in the night sky, Saturn will shine at a magnitude of 1.0, with Mars not far behind at a magnitude of 1.2. Both will be nestled within the constellation of Aquarius.

The proximity of Saturn and Mars during this event means they will cozily fit within the same field of view through a telescope. Yet, their brilliance ensures they won't be hidden from those who wish to witness the spectacle with the naked eye or through the less magnifying gaze of a pair of binoculars.

This celestial encounter promises to be a memorable sight, offering a unique opportunity to see two of the solar system's giants side by side in the night sky.

Saturn | Mars on 4/10

  • Angular size: 15"8 | 4"5
  • Magnitude: +1.0 | +1.2
  • Right ascension: 23h05m00s
  • Declination: 7°42'S | 7°14'S
  • Constellation: Aquarius


    April 14th: A Midnight Rendezvous with the Whirlpool Galaxy

    On April 14th, the Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as M51 or NGC 5194, graces the constellation Canes Venatici. Positioned to captivate, it will climb to its nightly peak around midnight local time, offering an ideal observation window.

    Located at a declination of 47°11'N, the Whirlpool Galaxy extends its best viewing opportunities to those in the northern hemisphere, while remaining shy of viewers much south of 22°S.

    With a visual magnitude of 8.4, M51's subtle glow evades the naked eye but reveals itself through the lens of binoculars or a small telescope.

    This cosmic wonder is not just a faint light in the vastness of space; it's a grand spiral galaxy engaging in a celestial ballet with its companion, NGC 5195. This interaction has given rise to the galaxy's striking appearance: pronounced spiral arms that elegantly wrap around its luminous core, reminiscent of water spiraling down a drain. 

    Whirlpool Galaxy on 4/14

    • Magnitude: +8.4
    • Right ascension: 13h29m50s
    • Declination: 47°11'N
    • Constellation: Canes Venatici


    April 17th: Midnight Marvel with Globular Cluster Messier 3

    On the night of April 17th, the sky will offer a spectacular viewing of the globular cluster Messier 3 (M3; NGC 5272), located in the constellation Canes Venatici. As the clock approaches midnight, local time, M3 will ascend to its zenith, showcasing itself in prime viewing position.

    Positioned at a declination of 28°22'N, M3 is ideally observed from the northern hemisphere, offering a celestial spectacle to those situated above the equator. Observers located much south of 41°S, however, may find it challenging to catch a glimpse of this celestial marvel.

    Shining with a magnitude of 6.3, M3 may be challenging to observe with the naked eye due to its faint glow. However, it comes to life under the scrutiny of binoculars or a small telescope, revealing a dense core surrounded by a sparkling halo of stars.

    Messier 3 is no ordinary cluster; it is one of the largest and brightest globular clusters known, comprising an estimated 500,000 stars. Its age, estimated to be around 8 billion years, makes it a fascinating subject for astronomers studying the early stages of our galaxy. This cluster is especially known for its high number of variable stars—about 274—more than any other known globular cluster.

    Messier 3 on 4/17

    • Magnitude: +6.3
    • Right ascension: 13h42m10s
    • Declination: 28°22'N
    • Constellation: Canes Venatici


    April 20th: Haumea's Opposition - A Distant Light

    On April 20th, asteroid 136108 Haumea will be in opposition. This is when Haumea positions itself directly opposite the Sun from our perspective on Earth, nestled in the constellation Bootes. It promises a night-long spectacle, peaking at its brightest around midnight local time.

    This alignment isn't just about Haumea playing cosmic tug-of-war with the Sun; it's also when Haumea cozies up to Earth at its perigee, or closest approach. This proximity, coupled with its opposition, bathes Haumea in full sunlight, making it as bright as it can possibly be from our viewpoint.

    The mechanics of this event are straightforward yet fascinating: Earth slots itself between Haumea and the Sun, aligning all three celestial bodies. This alignment means Haumea will rise in the east as the Sun dips below the horizon in the west, granting us a full night to observe this distant world as it sails across the sky, reaching overhead around the stroke of midnight.

    However, it's worth noting that even at its nearest and brightest, with a magnitude of 17.3, spotting Haumea is no small feat. Located a staggering 49.09 astronomical units (AU) away, it appears in our telescopes as a mere pinprick of light, indistinguishable from a star.

    This moment of opposition offers a unique opportunity to observe one of the more elusive members of our solar system. Although viewing Haumea requires more than just the naked eye or binoculars, those with access to a powerful telescope might just catch a glimpse of this icy, distant object.

    Haumea on 4/20

    • Magnitude: +17.3
    • Right ascension: 14h35m40s
    • Declination: 15°09'N
    • Constellation: Bootes


    April 22nd: The Lyrid Meteor Shower Under the April Moon

    Another celestial highlight of April is the Lyrid meteor shower. This annual spectacle graces our skies from April 16th through April 25th, with its grand display peaking on the night of April 22nd.

    During its climax, you can expect to see up to 18 meteors darting across the sky each hour, assuming you’re under the perfect blanket of darkness and the shower’s radiant point is right above you. But, let's be real, finding the ideal spot without light pollution or the shower perfectly overhead is a bit of a stretch for most of us.

    The Lyrids are known for their medium strength, reliably sprinkling the sky with meteors for about three nights around their peak. While these shooting stars don’t usually leave lingering trails, they’re capable of lighting up the night with spectacular fireballs. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, we’re in the prime seat to catch the show, with the radiant point positioned high in the sky at dawn. Southern hemisphere stargazers aren't left out, though the spectacle might be a bit subtler.

    This year, however, there’s a catch—the moon will be nearly full, 96% to be exact, which might outshine some of the fainter meteors. But don’t let that deter you; the brightest Lyrids will still cut through the moonlight.

    Tracing back to its origins, the Lyrid meteor shower owes its existence to the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. Every year, as Earth crosses Thatcher’s orbit, we collide with debris left behind by the comet, igniting these meteors as they burn up in our atmosphere.

    The radiant, or the point in the sky from which the Lyrids seem to emerge, is located near the constellation Lyra, at right ascension 18h00m, declination 34°N.


    April 22nd: Beholding the Spiral Majesty of the Pinwheel Galaxy

    On the night of April 22nd, the cosmos invites us to witness the majestic ascent of the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101 (NGC 5457), located in the constellation of Ursa Major. As midnight draws near, this spiral beauty will climb to its pinnacle in the sky, offering a prime viewing opportunity from local vantage points.

    Perched at a declination of 54°20'N, the Pinwheel Galaxy extends a special invitation to observers in the northern hemisphere. However, those situated much south of 15°S might find themselves longing for a glimpse of this celestial wonder, as it remains out of their sight.

    With a brightness magnitude of 7.9, M101 doesn't readily reveal itself to the unaided eye. Yet, through the lens of binoculars or a modest telescope, this galaxy is visible. Known for its striking spiral structure, M101 is one of the largest galaxies of its type, spanning over 170,000 light-years across. Its arms, rich with star-forming regions, dust lanes, and nebulae, weave through space, painting a grand portrait of cosmic creation.

    The Pinwheel Galaxy is not just a visual feast; it's a galaxy brimming with life and activity. It hosts numerous H II regions, the birthplaces of new stars, each marked by glowing gas and budding stellar clusters. Among these, NGC 5461 and NGC 5462 are particularly noteworthy for their size and brightness, offering a deeper dive into the processes that fuel galactic evolution.

    Messier 101 on 4/22

    • Magnitude: +7.9
    • Right ascension: 14h03m10s
    • Declination: 54°20'N
    • Constellation: Ursa Major


    April 23rd: Full Pink Moon - A Tribute to Spring's Blossom

    On April 23rd, look up to witness the Moon in all its glory as it reaches full phase, lighting up the sky from dusk till dawn. This moment, when the Moon aligns perfectly 180° across from the Sun, offers a spectacular view from anywhere on Earth, marking the peak of its monthly journey.

    This time around, the full Moon carries a special name—the "Pink" Moon. This charming title doesn't come from its color but from a beautiful springtime occurrence. Early April sees the bloom of Phlox subulata, a wildflower native to eastern North America. Also known as creeping phlox or moss phlox, it's often referred to by its lovely hue, "moss pink." This floral spectacle has inspired the naming of April’s full Moon, linking it to the renewal and blossoming of spring.

    At the precise moment it reaches its full phase, the Moon will position itself in the constellation Virgo, sitting at a declination of 14°25'S. It will be stationed a mere 247,927 miles away from our planet. Despite its name, don't expect the Moon to actually blush pink. The "Pink" Moon remains as luminous and white as ever, but it invites us to reflect on the natural world's cycles and the blossoming of life that spring brings.

    Full Pink Moon on 4/23

    • Angular size: 29'52"
    • Right ascension: 14h04m30s
    • Declination: 14°25'S
    • Constellation: Virgo
    • Distance from Earth: 247,927 miles


    Taking Your Stargazing to the Next Level

    Equipped with the knowledge of what the April night sky has in store, you're all set for some unforgettable stargazing experiences. While the beauty of the cosmos unfolds before your eyes, having the right gear can truly elevate your journey among the stars. Whether you're catching a glimpse with your naked eye or zooming in with a telescope, each celestial event this month is a chance to marvel at the universe's wonders.

    If you're thinking about kicking off your stargazing hobby or maybe stepping up your game, we've got just the collection for you. Our carefully selected lineup includes everything from high-quality binoculars to sophisticated telescopes, along with all the must-have accessories. Featuring only the best from well-known brands, our shop is your go-to for exploring the night sky.

    Browse through our selection of telescopes or discover the powerful magnification of our astronomy binoculars.

    Feeling overwhelmed by the choices? We've got you covered. Check out our blog for helpful guides, including "Choosing the Perfect Telescope." Equipped with the ideal gear, you're ready to embark on a remarkable celestial voyage, turning every stargazing experience into an unforgettable adventure.


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