April Skies..5 Planets are clearly visible Mars Venus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury

mars-hubble-300x240April 2014 is Mars’ time! We’re closer to Mars – and it’s brighter in our sky – than it has been since December 2007

.On April 8, we pass between Mars and the sun.


Jupiter and Mars both pop into view as soon as darkness falls on these April 2014 evenings. Both are very, very bright. It’s not likely that you’ll mistake one planet for the other. They are in different parts of the sky, and they are different colors with Jupiter bold white and Mars reddish.

Jupiter is the more brilliant of these two stunning worlds. It’s by far the brightest star like object in the evening sky. At nightfall, Jupiter resides high in the south to southwest sky (or if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in the north to northwest). Watch for the moon to swing close to Jupiter on April 5, April 6 and April 7.

Saturn is found in front of the constellation Libra the Scales. It rises in the east-southeast around 11 p.m. local Daylight Saving Time in early April, and by dusk or nightfall at the end of the month. Saturn climbs to its highest point in the sky 3:30 a.m. local Daylight Saving Time in early April and around 2 a.m. at the end of the month. See the close pairing of the waning moon with Saturn from mid-evening until dawn on the night of April 16-17 and April 17-18.

Venus, the sky’s brightest planet is still very prominent in the eastern predawn and dawn sky throughout April. In fact, dazzling Venus will remain the most brilliant starlike object in the morning sky until late October 2014, at which time it will shift over into the evening sky. The lovely waning crescent moon swings close to Venus on April 25, April 26 and April 27.

Mercury had a long apparition in the March 2014 sky. It’s still in the morning sky until nearly the end of April 2014, but you almost certainly need to be in the Southern Hemisphere or northern tropics for any chance of seeing Mercury, the innermost planet of the solar system, this month. Mercury reached its greatest western elongation – greatest angular distance from the sun on our sky’s dome – on March 14, and will pass over into the evening sky on April 26. May 2014 will present the Mercury’s best evening apparition of the year for the Northern Hemisphere.