THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN APRIL 2019

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours) up to Saturday 6 April and then NZST (UT + 12 hours). Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.

THE SUN and PLANETS in APRIL 2019, Rise & Set,  Mag. & Cons.
      April  1     NZDT            April 30     NZST  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Psc   7.33am  7.15pm  -26.7  Ari   7.03am  5.31pm
Merc   0.8  Aqr   5.29am  6.17pm   -0.3  Psc   5.16am  4.49pm
Venus -3.9  Aqr   4.38am  5.58pm   -3.8  Psc   4.41am  4.27pm
Mars   1.5  Tau  11.50am  9.23pm   .1.6  Tau  10.30am  7.37pm
Jup   -2.2  Oph  10.45pm  1.47pm   -2.4  Oph   7.49pm 10.51am
Sat    0.6  Sgr  12.41am  3.33pm    0.5  Sgr   9.50pm 12.41pm
Uran   5.9  Ari   9.17am  8.05pm    5.9  Ari   6.28am  5.11pm
Nep    8.0  Aqr   5.29am  6.20pm    7.9  Aqr   2.40am  3.28pm
Pluto 14.5  Sgr  12.54am  3.47pm   14.5  Sgr  10.00pm 12.54pm

             April  1  NZDT             April 30  NZST
Twilights    morning     evening        morning     evening
Civil:    start 7.08am, end  7.41pm   start 6.38am, end 5.58pm
Nautical: start 6.36am, end  8.13pm   start 6.05am, end 6.31pm
Astro:    start 6.04am, end  8.45pm   start 5.33am, end 7.03pm

      APRIL PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZDT/NZST (& UT)
  New moon:      April  5 at  9.50pm (08:50 UT)
  First quarter: April 13 at  7.06am (Apr 12 19:06 UT)
  Full Moon:     April 19 at 11.12pm (11:12 UT)
  Last quarter   April 27 at 10.18am (Apr 26 22:18 UT)

 

PLANETS in April 2019

Most planets are best observed as morning objects, although Jupiter will be well up in the later part of the evening by the end of April. Mars remains an early evening object.

 

MORNING SKY PLANETS

MERCURY makes its best morning appearance for the year during April rising two hours or more before the Sun all month. It reaches its greatest elongation, 28° west of the Sun, on the 12th. The planet, magnitude 0.3, will be 15° above the horizon an hour before sunrise, in a direction little to the north of east.

Mercury will be a few degrees below and to the right of Venus all month in the early dawn sky. The crescent moon will be 4° above and to the right of Mercury on the morning on April 3 when the planet will also be 23 arc-minutes from Neptune with the latter to the upper right of Mercury.

VENUS follows Mercury through the stars throughout April. It starts April about 10° above Mercury, closes in somewhat so that by mid month they will be about 4° apart, but then Mercury starts pulling ahead again so they end some 9° apart by the end of April.

The crescent moon will be a few degrees above Venus on the 2nd and below it on the 3rd.

JUPITER will be easily visible late evening by the end of April. The planet is stationary on April 11, so its position changes little during the month.

The gibbous moon is 2° from Jupiter as seen late evening on the 23rd.

SATURN rises close to 10pm at the end of April, so Saturn will be best observed as a morning object.

A lunar occultation of Saturn visible from New Zealand occurs on the morning of April 26. The planet will disappear behind the moon at the bright, sunlit limb. Saturn will reappear a little over an hour later from the dark, Earth shine lit, limb. The reappearance of the satellites Titan and Rhea will also be observable with a modest telescope.

A brief summary of NZST times and the offsets for Saturn limb contacts for a few centres are:

AUCKLAND Observatory Saturn 
  disappear 12:32:45.9am ±18.4s
   reappear 01:41:50.9am ±20.8s
WELLINGTON Carter Obs
  disappear 12:39:20.4am ±18.8s
   reappear 01:47:18.5am ±20.8s
CHRISTCHURCH mid
  disappear 12:42:58.6am ±19.2s
   reappear 01:47:19.7am ±20.8s
DUNEDIN observatory
  disappear 12:47:39.7am ±20.1s
   reappear 01:46:59.2am ±21.8s

Intending observers need full details, including ring contact times, times for Titan and Rhea to reappear and position angles of events on the moon’s limb. The best way is to generate predictions using Dave Herald’s Occult program. If this is not available, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., giving either the name of a nearby town or their site longitude and latitude.

The occultation is also visible from SE Australia where the moon will be very low, especially at the disappearance.

NEPTUNE is less than 1° from Mercury for the first four mornings of April and also just above and a little left of the 4.2 magniutde star phi Aqr. They should be visible in binoculars an hour or so before sunrise. The two planets are closest on the morning of April 3. That morning a very thin crescent moon will also be about 4° to the upper right of the planets. Neptune passes 5 arc-minutes from phi Sgr on the 10th.

PLUTO is just under 5° from Saturn on the 1st reducing to just over 3° by the 31st.

 

EVENING SKY PLANETS

MARS sets just over 2 hours after the Sun all month, so will be a low object to the west as the sky darkens. An hour after sunset it will be about 10° up and well round towards northwest. It will be 3° above the Pleiades on the 1st and passes some 6° below Aldebaran mid month. The crescent moon will be 3° from Mars on the 9th.

URANUS is at conjunction with the Sun on April 23 NZST. It starts April as an evening object, following conjunction it moves into the morning sky.

 

BRIGHTEST ASTEROIDS IN APRIL

               magnitude; constellation; time of transit

               APRIL 1     NZDT      APRIL 30    NZST  
               Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
(1)  Ceres     8.2   Oph   5.36am    7.6   Oph   2.36am
(2)  Pallas    7.9   Boo   2.45am    8.3   Boo  11.29pm
(4)  Vesta     8.1   Psc  12.45pm    8.3   Cet  10.41am
(7)  Iris      9.4   Crv   1.30am    9.9   Vir  10.14pm

CERES rises at 10.31 pm on the 1st and 7.29 pm on the 30th. The asteroid will be about 11.5° from Jupiter.

PALLAS is at opposition on the 9th at magnitude 7.9. The following night it will be very close to the magnitude 2.7 star, eta Boo..

VESTA rises an hour before the Sun on April 1 and nearly 2.5 hours before, at 4.37 am, on the 30th when it is about 3.5° from Venus. Vesta will also be just over 2° from Mercury on the morning of April 25.

IRIS is at opposition on the 4th. At magnitude 9.4 it will be a faint binocular object early in April.

Brian Loader

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