Night Sky Guide

14 Must-See Astronomy Events in the April Night Sky (2022)

Let’s hope those notorious ‘April Showers’ stay far away! April is going to be a great month to get out and go stargazing, planet-gazing, asteroid-viewing, and much more. . From close encounters between various planets and our moon to a whole spate of solar system viewing opportunities, there are plenty of April night sky events to mark on your calendar. Don’t forget too that the Milky Way is rising for the northern hemisphere, so other nights are good too even if one of these events isn’t happening!

If you’re looking for one particular night to head to a dark sky location, mark your calendar for the night of April 22nd-23rd. On this night, you can enjoy the first major meteor shower of the year. It’s also an important day here on earth: STG founder Valerie’s birthday is the 23rd! Her birthday wish is that you’ll all go stargazing and appreciate what the night sky has to offer this month.

Where necessary, we have noted where you may need binoculars or a telescope to help you get the best view of each celestial event. If you need equipment to view any of these April night sky events, I recommend checking out my guide to recommended telescopes and binoculars; there are ranked lists of good equipment at every price point to fit your budget or inspire your next upgrade.

Ready to explore the wonders of the night sky this coming month? Read on on for the best April night sky events!

April 1-2 – Second Messier Marathon Opportunity

Messier 1 - Marc Van Norden via Flickr
Messier 1 – Photo credit: Marc Van Norden via Flickr

If you follow me on Instagram or subscribe to STG emails, you know I’ve been really enthusiastic about the Messier Marathon this year. This is in part because there were actually two good opportunities to try and spot all Messier objects, thanks to the timing of moon phases in 2022. (Also, I was – for once – traveling to good dark sky destinations – Death Valley and Jordan – for both of these nights!)

In any case, if you want to bring out your telescope and try to spot deep space objects, April kicks off with a great opportunity. The New Moon on April 1st ensures you’ll have the darkest skies possible as you work your way through the Messier Marathon.

April 3 – Lunar Occultation of Uranus

A busy astronomical April kicks off with one of the coolest recurring events of 2022: the lunar occultation of Uranus. Throughout the year, Uranus is repeatedly (10 times, to be exact) occulted by the Moon – that is, the Moon will pass in front of Uranus from the perspective of some area on earth.

Here at the beginning of April, the Lunar Occultation of Uranus will be visible by the majority of South America and a very small portion of West Africa. Best of all, the moon will be at a very favorable two-day old waxing crescent phase, which will provide little obstruction to spotting Uranus in the first place. While Uranus is visible to the unaided eye under the best dark sky conditions, your better bet for viewing this occultation will be using a telescope if you find yourself in the region where the event will be visible.

April 4 – Conjunction of Saturn & Mars

There are a lot of conjunctions – or visual close encounters – in April this year, and the calendar kicks off with the conjunction of Saturn and Mars on the night of April 4th. These two planets will be in a similar part of the sky to both Jupiter and Venus, but will appear particularly close together this night. At their closest in the dusk hour after sunset, they’ll be just 0°19′ apart or less than a pinky width when your arm is fully extended.

Even if you don’t head out for planet-gazing on the 4th, this is a good night for stargazing if your skies are clear. The Moon will be just 16% illuminated and provide little light pollution.

April 19 – Haumea at Opposition

Haumea - Kevin Gill via Flickr
Artist’s depiction of Haumea – Photo credit: Kevin Gill via Flickr

Don’t break down your telescope yet this month – the second half of April is when the majority of action is happening!

April 19th has another reason to keep it set up! Dwarf planet Haumea reaches opposition on this night, and will appear bright due to the geometry of its alignment with the sun and earth.

Haumea is located in the constellation Boötes near bright Arcturus; with the proper equipment, you can use the red giant star to star-hop to Haumea. It will reach its highest point around midnight local time, no matter where you are viewing from.

April 23 – Peak of the Lyrid Meteor Showers

April Night Sky - Lyrid Meteor Shower - Islam Hassan via Flickr
Photo credit: Islam Hassan via Flickr

In the early morning hours of April 23rd, head out for a night sky show of meteoric proportions. The year’s first major meteor shower in the northern hemisphere, the Lyrids, will peak on after dawn on the 23rd, so your best viewing prospects will be in the pre-dawn hours. The Lyrids typically produce a Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) around 18 on the night of peak activity.

Despite their name, look for them from the radiant point in the constellation Hercules; this will be visible most of the night for stargazers in the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately, a bright waxing gibbous Moon will interfere a bit with meteor-spotting opportunities, but it’s still worth heading out to try and spot them if your skies are clear.

Here’s my complete guide to seeing the 2022 Lyrids Meteor Shower.

April 23 – Peak of the π-Puppid Meteor Showers

For viewers in the southern hemisphere, the next night (April 24th) is another a great night to try and see ‘shooting stars:’ the π-Puppid meteor shower peaks on the 24th too. Though far less active than the Lyrids, π-Puppids are variable and can be a rewarding shower depending on the year.

This year, the radiant point of the π-Puppids will be tough to spot for those in the northern hemisphere, so this is one of the April night sky events that’s better suited to those in the southern hemisphere.

April 24 – Conjunction of the Moon & Saturn

The Moon & Saturn - Cédric Allier via Flickr
Photo credit: Cédric Allier via Flickr

The next series of events show how the planets are all in the same part of the sky right now – the Moon makes a series of conjunctions and close visual approaches with each in turn. First up is Saturn, which will rise in conjunction with the Moon on the night of April 24th.

After sunset on this day, Saturn and the Moon will appear near one another in the sky. At their closest, they will be 4°30′ apart; too wide for a telescope field of view but easy enough to jump between bright Saturn and the waning crescent Moon.

April 25 – Conjunction of the Moon & Mars

Lunar Occultation of Venus - bossco via Flickr
Photo credit: bossco via Flickr

Next, the Moon and Mars share an evening together. After sunset on April 25th, the Moon and Mars will appear just 3°54′ apart, so easy to spot and enjoy with the unaided eye. Binoculars or a telescope will only make the evening more enjoyable.

April 26 – Conjunction of the Moon & Venus

Venus gets her shot next, rising in conjunction with the Moon on April 26th. At their closest, the Moon and Venus will appear 3°47′ apart, and this will occur a bit later in the evening than the lunar conjunctions with Saturn or Mars.

If you’re out stargazing and planet-gazing this night, you might notice Venus and Jupiter are also very close together in the sky. Keep reading for more information on that!

April 27 – Conjunction of the Moon & Jupiter

Finally, Jupiter and the Moon have their own conjunction, in the early morning (pre-dawn) hours of April 27th. They’ll appear just 3°38′ apart as the Moon and planets set and the sky begins to lighten. The Moon has been a waning crescent all week, so this is actually one of the best nights for planet-gazing in general this month.

April 28 – Mercury at its Evening Peak

Mercury in Evening Sky - sagesolar via Flickr
Photo credit: sagesolar via Flickr

So we’ve talked about seeing Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus so far – that’s five of the six visible planets. What about lil’ ol’ Mercury? Well – this month of planets continues with a chance to see Mercury as it approaches it s evening peak on the night of April 28th.

Since Mercury is so close to the sun, we can only observe it when it reaches its “highest” aka visually furthest from the sun. This occurs cyclically as part of Mercury’s 88-day orbit; sometimes Mercury reaches its “peak” in the morning, then in the evening. In any case, on April 28th, you’ll be able to see Mercury at 18° above the western horizon just after sunset. This is a great opportunity to head out and try to spot the smallest planet.

April 29 – Asteroid 10 Hygiea at Opposition

While there are an equal number of opportunities to spot asteroids in 2022 compared with 2021, the majority of them this year are occurring later in the year – meaning you won’t see many events like this on the monthly calendars before the second half of the year.

In any event, the night of April 29th is one such opportunity, when asteroid 10 Hygiea reaches opposition and will be brightly illuminated by the sun. On this night, you’ll need a telescope to try and spot small Hygiea in the constellation Virgo. For viewers in the northern hemisphere, the asteroid won’t be higher than 20°-25° above the southwestern horizon, making this a delightfully tricky April night sky event to see.

April 30 – Conjunction of Venus & Jupiter

April wraps up with two astronomical events: one during the pre-dawn hours and another during the day itself.

First, as promised, there’s a conjunction between Venus and Jupiter. These two bright planets will appear 0°14′ apart at their closest – though that will actually occur during the daylight hours. If you want to spot the planets near their closest, your best bet is to rise early and enjoy them through your telescope or binoculars (which they will be close enough to observe at the same time).

April 30 – Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse

Once you’re up for Venus and Jupiter, don’t go back to be: there’s a partial solar eclipse on April 30th as well. Okay, to be fair, this one’s only going to be visible for those in the far southern tip of South America – the southern hemisphere is having a really good month, y’all!

If you are down in Patagonia, or perhaps catching a very late-season Antarctica cruise, you might get to enjoy this astronomy event, otherwise mark your calendars for the May 15-16 total lunar eclipse that pairs with this solar eclipse.

Featured photo credit: Eric Kilby via Flickr

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Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She grew up in Alaska, has lived across the U.S., and traveled around the world to enjoy the night sky from many different perspectives. Join her on this journey to explore space right here on earth.

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