THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN APRIL 2021

NZDT comes to an end at 3am on Sunday 4 April. NZ then reverts to NZST, 12 hours ahead of UTC. Consequently dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours) up to early Sunday morning on April 4. For the rest of April NZST applies. 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.

THE SUN and PLANETS in APRIL2021, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
          Apr 1        NZDT           Apr 30        NZST  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Psc   7.33am  7.14pm  -26.7  Ari   7.04am  5.31pm
Merc  -0.5  Aqr   6.08am  6.46pm   -1.2  Ar1   8.11am  5.59pm
Venus -4.0  Psc   7.40am  7.23pm   -3.9  Ari   7.50am  5.57pm
Mars   1.3  Tau   1.09pm 10.15pm    1.6  Gem  11.35am  8.35pm
Jup   -2.1  Cap   3.26am  5.19pm   -2.2  Aqr  12.57am  2.38pm
Sat    0.8  Cap   2.24am  4.45pm    0.7  Cap  11.39pm  1.56pm
Uran   5.9  Ari   9.55am  8.22pm    5.9  Ari   7.09am  5.33pm
Nep    8.0  Aqr   5.49am  6.28pm    7.9  Aqr   3.00am  3.36pm
Pluto 14.6  Sgr   1.06am  4.03pm   14.5  Sgr  10.13pm  1.10pm

              April 1  NZDT          April 30  NZST
Twilights    morning     evening       morning     evening
Civil:    start 7.09am, end 7.40pm   start 6.38am, end  5.58pm
Nautical: start 6.37am, end 8.12pm   start 6.05am, end  6.30pm
Astro:    start 6.04am, end 8.44pm   start 5.33am, end  7.02pm

   FEB PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZST & UT
  Last quarter:  Apr  4 at 10.03pm (10:03 UT)
  New Moon:      Apr 12 at  2.31pm (02:31 UT)
  First quarter: Apr 20 at  6.49pm (06:59 UT)
  Full Moon:     Apr 27 at  3.32pm (03:32 UT)

THE PLANETS in APRIL 2021

MERCURY starts April as a morning object, rising 85 minutes before the Sun on the 1st. Over the next 18 days the planet closes in on the Sun until mid April,superior conjunction being on the 19th. At its closest at 1pm NZST Mercury will be 20 arc minutes south, above, the Sun, ie less than a solar diameter but, of course, completely unobservable. It becomes a nominal evening object for the rest of the month but is too close to the Sun for observation.

VENUS is also too close to the Sun for observation and is close to Mercury towards the end of April: they are just over a degree apart on the 26th.

MARS sets approximately 3 hours after the Sun all month, so it is visible in the early evening sky. The planet moves from Taurus to Gemini on the 24th. It is well north of the celestial equator so low in southern skies. The crescent moon will be about 3° from Mars at 7pm on the 17th. A few hours later the moon will occult Mars, an event visible from equatorial Africa.

JUPITER and SATURN move further up into the morning sky With Saturn rising just before midnight by the 30th. Jupiter rises at 1am. The crescent moon is a few degrees from Saturn on the morning of April 7 and a similar distance from Jupiter the next morning.

PLUTO, is also a morning object, still in Sagittarius. It rises more than an hour before Saturn.

URANUS is at conjunction with the Sun at the end April. Like Mercury and Venus it will be unobservable during the month. Venus passes Uranus on the 23rd when the two will be only a quarter degree apart with Venus to the south of Uranus. The following day Mercury will be three quarters of a degree to the north of Uranus.

NEPTUNE moves up into the morning sky, rising 4 hours before the Sun by April 30.

POSSIBLE BINOCULAR ASTEROIDS in April

                  April 1 NZDT          April 30 NZST  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
 (1) Ceres      9.0   Cet   1.50pm    9.1   Psc  11.34am
 (4) Vesta      6.5   Leo  11.37pm    7.0   Leo   8.37pm

CERES is at conjunction with the Sun on the 7th so too close to the Sun for observation all month.

VESTA, an evening object rises nearly 2 hours before the Sun sets on the 1st and over 3 hours before on the 30th. The asteroid, in Leo, is stationary on April 22.

Brian Loader

 

 

 

 

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