The nights are getting shorter and shorter, the sun is rising higher and higher: spring is here! So you have to hurry if you want to see the beauties of the sky in April. Because every day of the month the sun rises about two minutes earlier and sets one and a half minutes later. At the beginning of April, it rises at around seven o'clock and sets at around 7:45. At the end of the month, it becomes light at around six o'clock and dark at around half past eight. The length of the day increases during the month from about 13 hours to 14 hours and 30 minutes at the end of the month. For amateur astronomers and professionals this means that while on 1 April it is still really dark from 9:30 to 5:00 pm, on 30 April it is only dark between 10:30 and 4:00 pm.
You can find out which sky beauties and observations you can marvel at in the evening and night sky in April in our detailed English-language Sky Guide April 2020. An overview of the highlights is already available here:
Evening star Venus shines brightly and shrinks to a sickle
In the relatively long dusk a bright spot of light in the west is particularly noticeable: Venus. The evening star now reaches its greatest apparent brightness in April with -4.8 mag and thus shines almost as bright as the crescent moon, which is still thin at the beginning of the month.
Speaking of the crescent: Venus also shrinks to a crescent this month. Because Venus passes between the earth and the sun, it appears crescent shaped. At the same time, its diameter increases - with good binoculars on a tripod you can easily observe the change of Venus in April.
Spring pictures high in the south
When the night is finally deep black, the spring triangle with its three bright stars Regulus, Spica and Arktur is already high in the south, while deep in the west the winter pictures can just about be made out. Shortly after midnight the constellations of summer announce the warm season in the east.
Planetary trio in the morning
In the early hours of the morning, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars then engage in a real race: Lined up like a string of lights, one planet after another shines above the southeast horizon. Jupiter is the first - at the beginning of the month at around half past four, and at the end of April at half past two. One hour later Saturn also appears. You will find it two or three fingers' breadths to the left of Jupiter, which cannot be overlooked due to its brightness, while the darker Saturn is already struggling with the beginning of dawn. Mars follows the ringed planet on its foot: Just half a finger's breadth below Saturn, our outer neighboring planet peels over the horizon. You can observe the trio until about 6:30 at the beginning of the month and 5:30 at the end of the month, after that it is too bright.
Finally shooting stars again
Finally, wishers and romantics will get their money's worth again: In April, the Lyrids bring us the first shooting star shower of the year. The meteor stream is active from 14 to 30 April and reaches its peak in the night from 21 to 22 April. Completely undisturbed by the moon (the 23rd of April is a new moon), between 14 and 23 shooting stars per hour flash across the firmament during this night. In the early morning hours of 22 April, around five o'clock, the highest fall rates are expected.
Even more special observation tips in April
On April 3, Venus is exactly in the Pleiades. The Seven Sisters is actually an open star cluster consisting of thousands of stars.
In the morning hours of 14 and 15 April the crescent of the waning moon joins Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. If the moon is still a hand's breadth to the right of Jupiter on 14 April, you will find the crescent in the morning of 15 April centrally below Jupiter and Saturn.
Between April 24 and 28, the waning crescent of Venus and narrow, waxing crescent of the moon form a pretty sight on the horizon. The Moon passes Venus during these days and on 26 April it is only three finger breadths away from Venus.