Here’s a quick look at what’s going on in the sky during the month of April, 2014:
April 7— First Quarter Moon, 4:31 a.m. One-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing.
April 8— Moon at apogee (its farthest point to the Earth), 11 a.m.
April 8— Mars at opposition. A body in space is at opposition when it sits 180° from the Sun in relationship to the Earth. This is the best time to view a planet.
April 15 — Mars closest to Earth.
April 15 — Full Moon, 3:42 a.m. The visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.
April 15 — Total Eclipse of the Moon. This total lunar eclipse will be the first one widely visible from North America in nearly 3 1/2 years. The Americas will have the best view of this eclipse, although over the Canadian Maritimes, moonset will intervene near the end of totality. Of special interest is the fact that the Moon will appear quite near to the bright star Spica, in the constellation Virgo, during the eclipse. They actually will be in conjunction a couple of hours prior to the onset of totality, but they’re still relatively near to each other when the eclipse gets underway. The Moon will be completely eclipsed for 1 hour 18 minutes; the Moon will pass to the south of the center of the Earth’s shadow. Moon Enters Penumbra: 12:54 a.m. – Moon Enters Umbra: 1:58 a.m. – Total EclipseBegins: 3:07 a.m. – Middle of the Eclipse: 3:46 a.m. – Total Eclipse Ends: 4:25 a.m.Moon Leaves Umbra: 5:33 a.m. – Moon Leaves Penumbra: 6:38 a.m.
April 20— Astronomy Day.
April 22— Last Quarter Moon, 3:52 a.m. One-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing.
April 22 — Moon at perigee (its closest point to the Earth), 8 p.m.
April 23— Lyrid Meteor Shower. 2014 is expected to be an unfavorable year for viewing this normally moderate shower.
April 28-29 — Annular Eclipse of the Sun. It is quite possible that only penguins will witness the annular (ring) phase of this eclipse, as it will occur within the uninhabited region of Wilkes Land in Antarctica. A partial eclipse will be visible from Australia. Because the axis of the Moon’s antumbral shadow misses the Earth and only its edge grazes Antarctica, an accurate prediction of the duration of annularity is all but impossible. This is the reason that the duration of annularity in the table below is given as 0 minutes and 00 seconds. Partial Eclipse Begins: 11:53 p.m. (Apr. 28) – Annular Eclipse Begins: 1:58 a.m. (Apr. 29)Greatest Eclipse: 2:03 a.m. – Annular Eclipse Ends: 2:09 a.m. – Partial Eclipse Ends: 4:14 a.m.Maximum Duration of Annularity: 0m 00s
April 29— New Moon, 2:14 a.m. The Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight.