Weymouth Astronomy

The Planets - April 2019

Observing the planets can be extremely rewarding. Everyone remembers the first time they observed Saturn and it's rings or the gas giant Jupiter and it's Galillean Moons. Solar System


Mercury passed through inferior conjunction (between us and the Sun) on March 15th and at the start of the month rises low in the east-southeast about 30 minutes before the Sun. It lies down to the left of Venus as the two inferior planets approach each other as the month progresses.


On the first of April it rises about 5am only 30 minutes before the Sun. A very low horizon just south of east will be needed and binoculars could well be required to cut through the Sun's glare but please do not use them after the Sun has risen.


Mars remains prominent in the south western sky after sunset setting some four hours after the Sun at the start of the month but less than three and a half hours by the month's end. The red planet is moving through Taurus passing between the Pleaides and Hyades clusters on the 4th/5th.


Jupiter starts the month rising around 1 a.m. and brightens from magnitude -2.3 to -2.5 as the month progresses. Unfortunately it is heading towards the southern part of the ecliptic and currently lies in the southern part of Ophiuchus just above Scorpius.


Saturn, the ringed planet shining with a magnitude increasing from +0.6 to +0.5 during the month and rises around 3am on April 1st but around 1 am by the month's end. By the end of April, Saturn will near the meridian just before sunrise. So morning twilight is the best time to observe it but now in Sagittarius it is at the lowest point of the ecliptic.

Information collated from Jodrell Bank and Astronomy Now magazine