Look up! What can you see in the night sky for April 2023? Blazing Venus still gets all the glory but also Mercury is at its best for the entire year. From visible planets to bright stars, Bob Berman shares the highlights of what you can easily see in the skies as spring begins!
Visible Planets of April
We’ll focus on the three visible planets this month: Venus, Mercury, and Mars. Let’s start with the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon.
How to See Venus
This month, super-bright Venus dominates the night sky, brighter than -4 magnitude. Just look after sunset towards the west. You can’t miss it! This beauty sets a few hours after sunset. See Planet Rise and Set times for your location.
Venus will be an excellent guide to some spectacular stargazing.
- On April 12 to 14, look around Venus for some lovely stargazing. Venus floats between the small, dipper-shape Pleiades star and the bright red star Aldebaran, which is the “eye” of the constellation Taurus the Bull.
- On April 22, Venus hovers only 5° above the very thin crescent Moon.
- April 23: Venus is now below the crescent Moon in the fading evening twilight.
- April 24: The Moon is between Mars and Venus.
- April 25: A three-way conjunction. Orange Mars, now merely magnitude +1.3, stands left of the crescent Moon with dazzling Venus to their lower right.
How to See Mercury
The first two weeks of April are the best time of the year to see Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun! It’s aided by its high brilliance at magnitude -0.9 which makes Mercury brighter than any nearby stars, though it’s extremely low on the west-northwest horizon.
Look 45 minutes after sunset (about 7:50 P.M.), about 20 degrees below and slightly to the right of bright Venus. You would need a clear view to the west, due to its extremely low elevation. Mark these two dates:
- April 11: Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. This is Mercury’s best evening of 2023. The small planet will be at its highest point above the horizon (though still low in the western sky) and shining at magnitude 0. Of course, it will be dazzling Venus above Mercury which draws everyone’s attention.
- April 20 and 21: Mercury will have a close meeting with the crescent Moon, hovering below Mercury, on the 20th and halfway between Mercury and Venus on the 21st. The Moon is a good pointer, but note that Mercury’s quite dim at this point.
See my entire article devoted to “Mercury at its Best for 2023: You’ve Never Seen This Before!”
How to See Mercury
The red planet has faded, now over 100 million miles from Earth. To find Mars, look above and to the left of Venus. Mars moves closer throughout the month, reaching about 25 degrees away from Venus by April 30. It spends the month in the twin constellation, Gemini.
- On April 25, look first for the waxing crescent Moon and the Mars will be to the left. Both the Moon and Mars are just below two bright stars, Castor and Pollux, Gemini’s two 1st magnitude stars, that mark the heads of each of the twins. Mars will not set until around midnight.
Saturn isn’t really worth viewing with the naked eye this month. It’s placed quite low to the east horizon in the predawn skies. Jupiter will not be visible at all this month. At the end of March, Jupiter dove into the sunset and is in conjunction with the Sun mid-April. It won’t reappear until May, in the eastern morning skies.
Looking for more wonders of the night sky? Plan ahead with my “Top Astronomical Events of 2023.”
April Moon Phases
The Full Pink Moon of April rises on April 6, 2023 at 12:35 A.M (EDT). See your local Moon phases.
- Full Moon: April 5
- Last Quarter Moon: April 13
- New Moon: April 19
- First Quarter Moon: April 27
The traditional name of “Pink Moon” has nothing to do with its color; rather, this Moon marked the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers. See the complete April Full Moon Guide.
Hybrid Solar Eclipse: April 20
An annular total eclipse appears as total over westernmost Australia and a string of nearby islands on the 20th (local time). However, it is on the opposite side of the globe from North America, and not visible for our readers from the U.S. or Canada.. See all 2023 eclipse dates.
Lyrid Meteor Shower: April 22
Just in time for Earth Day, the Lyrids will peak (April 22, 23). In dark skies, it’s a moderately active meteor shower that produces 10 to 20 meteors per hour. Normally, the peak happens in the predawn hours. The thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. For more details, see our 2023 Meteor Shower Calendar.
Earth Day: April 22
Don’t forget to celebrate our own planet Earth on April 22, which is Earth Day! How can we appreciate the wonder and beauty of our home planet? Look at the sunset in the West and then spin yourself around to face East. What do you see near the horizon?
You’ll often notice a band of pink or orange-hued sky with a blueish band underneath. These bands move upward following sunset to form an arch over the sky that slowly fades as night sets in. The dark blue band is Earth’s shadow rising. Above it, the rosy-hued band is known as the “Belt of Venus.” The “Belt of Venus” is a cool phenomenon that forms an arch with Earth’s shadow at sunset! It’s a beautiful sight.
Find more ways to celebrate Earth Day!