Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 13 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 9.1

Clocks revert to NZST on Sunday 5 April.

THE SUN and PLANETS in April 2020, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
            April 1 NZDT              April 30 NZST  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Psc   7.34am  7.14pm  -26.7  Ari   7.04am  5.30pm
Merc   0.0  Aqr   5.19am  6.22pm   -1.7  Ari   6.40am  5.20pm
Venus -4.6  Tau  11.40am  8.56pm   -4.7  Tau  10.39am  7.12pm
Mars   0.8  Cap   1.29am  4.17pm    0.4  Cap  12.18am  2.24pm
Jup   -2.1  Sgr  12.59am  3.49pm   -2.3  Sgr  10.17pm  1.03pm
Sat    0.7  Cap   1.30am  4.09pm    0.6  Cap  10.42pm  1.19pm
Uran   5.9  Ari   9.34am  8.12pm    5.9  Ari   6.49am  5.22pm
Nep    8.0  Aqr   5.37am  6.22pm    7.9  Aqr   2.48am  3.30pm
Pluto 14.5  Sgr  12.58am  3.53pm   14.5  Sgr  10.04pm  1.00pm

              April 1  NZDT              April 30  NZST
Twilights    morning     evening        morning     evening
Civil:    start 7.09am, end  7.40pm   start 6.38am, end  5.57pm
Nautical: start 6.37am, end  8.12pm   start 6.06am, end  6.30pm
Astro:    start 6.05am, end  8.44pm   start 5.33am, end  7.02pm

   April PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZ & UT
  First quarter: Apr  1 at 11.21pm NZDT (10:21 UT)
  Full Moon:     Apr  8 at  2.35pm NZST (02:35 UT)
  Last quarter   Apr 15 at 10.56am (Apr 14, 22:56 UT)
  New Moon:      Apr 23 at  2.26pm (02:26 UT)
  First quarter: May  1 at  8.38am (Apr 30, 20:38 UT)


VENUS remains the only naked eye evening planet in April. It sets about 100 minutes after the Sun.

The planet is in Taurus passing through the southern edge of the Pleiades on April 3 and 4. The crescent moon is about 8° from Venus as seen from NZ on the evenings of April 26 and 27.

MERCURY is relatively well placed for viewing as a morning object in the early part of April. It rises over 2 hours before the Sun on the 1st. At magnitude 0 it should be fairly easy to spot some 15° up an hour before sunrise. The planet will be some 6° to the north of east.

The interval between Mercury rise and Sunrise gets less during the month, down to about 100 minutes by the 15th. So Mercury will be lower but it will be a little brighter at -0.4. The trends continue for the rest of the month, by the 25th its magnitude -1.0, but rising only an hour before the Sun. During the last few days of the month, Mercury is likely to be too low in the morning twilight to observe.

MARS and SATURN are just under a degree apart on the morning of April 1. During the month Mars moves across Capricornus and away from Saturn which moves far more slowly.

JUPITER and PLUTO are morning objects in Sagittarius. The two start the month just under a degree apart. At their closest on the morning of the 6th they are only 43 arc minutes.

JUPITER and SATURN themselves are just over 6° apart on April 1 and a shade under 5° apart on the 30th. The two will gradually get closer during the rest of 2020.

URANUS is at conjunction on April 26, so is too close to the Sun for observation.

NEPTUNE moves up into the morning sky during April following its conjunction in early March. Mercury is a little over a degree from Neptune on the morning of April 4.


                   April 1 NZDT          April 29 NZST  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
(1)  Ceres      9.3   Cap  10.28am    9.2   Aqr  8.12am
(4)  Vesta      8.5   Tau   4.51pm    8.5   Tau  2.45pm

CERES is a morning object. It rises just after 3am NZDT on the 1st, and 1am NZST on the 30th. The asteroid moves from Capricornus to Aquarius on the 8th.

VESTA is an evening object. It sets at 9.47 pm NZDT on the 1st and 7.30 pm NZST on the 30th when the asteroid is just over 7° from Venus

Brian Loader

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