Star Diary Podcast: 4 to 10 April 2022

What's coming up in the northern hemisphere's night sky in the month of 4 to 10 April 2022.

BBC Sky at Night Magazine Star Diary podcast.
Published: April 4, 2022 at 8:00 am

What's coming up in the night sky in the week of 4 to 10 April 2022.



Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine by visiting Or to a digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.

Ezzy Pearson Greetings, listeners. Welcome to Star Diary, Radio Astronomy Weekly Guide to the best things to see in the night sky in the week of the 4th to the 10th of April. I'm Ezzy Pearson and I'm joined on the podcast today by our reviews editor Paul Money. So Paul, welcome back again.

Paul Money Hello, there, Ezzy, yes another week of exciting events? I mean, it's amazing. There's always something to look at. You know, the night sky is always changing. There's always something. I must admit. You know, we do tend to follow the Moon a lot. Well, that's because of the Moon's orbit around the Earth. So a lot of events will always involve the Moon, but we'll try to pick out a few other events as well. And guess what? Gosh, for once we start off, wait for it in the evening sky.

Ezzy Pearson No.

Paul Money I know it makes it change. But you can't miss this one, because April the 4th and the 5th, it does involve the Moon. It's a thin crescent, but on the 4th, it lies directly under the Pleiades by several degrees, so it's hanging below the Pleiades star cluster, Messier 45. It's a wonderful star cluster. I mean, its naked eye – does depend on your eyesight as to how many you see. I mean, my record was sort of like nine... Sorry, 11 was my absolute record before I had to wear glasses. Ahh. But this last winter, I did actually see nine with my glasses, so I was quite pleased with that. But then because you know, it is, and I think the star count in February and I did quite well with Orion, I was very pleased with that. So, you know, so you do need dark skies again, but there's a lot of cluster members in that Messier 45. But it's nice when the moon's hanging blowing. Photographers like to get pictures like this, you see the sort of the crescent moon hanging below the Pleiades, I think makes a nice picture for the evening. And then because it's part... I mean, Taurus is always strikes me. It's like I always thinking of that constellation being dominated by two main clusters. She got Messier 45 and you got the Hyades cluster. And of course, the Hyades cluster at this time of year is level near enough with the Pleiades. So to the left of the Pleiades and of course, apparently looking as if it's part of the Hyades cluster is Aldebaran. And of course it's not. It's actually half the distance of the cluster, so it's not a true member at all. So the Moon hangs below the Pleiades on the 4th. The next evening. It's higher, and we talked about triangles last week, didn't we? Well, the thing about this is that this time we've got a triangle with the Pleiades to the right. The Moon at the apex above and then Aldebaran to the left sort of things. You got this nice triangle with there. And in actual fact, the Moon will be quite close to Kappa Tauri as well. There's there's two stars there Kappa, which is actually Kappa 1 and Kappa 2, quite close together. And then above it all, Epsilon Tauri as well. So that'll always think that'll make a nice little photograph as well sort of thing. They're bright enough you might be able to do it with a telescope. Just to catch the two stars quite close to the Moon as well. And the other thing to remember about crescent moons is that you should be able to pick up Earthshine. It's quite a gorgeous thing, is the second hand light bounced off the Earth bright, reflective atmosphere and oceans onto the moon filling in. It's a bit like a photographer's filling shadow they often use. These umbrellas don't live to create this light, reflect the light onto the person and give it a softer appearance. So we've got the bright crescent illuminated by the Sun, but the feeble other part of the moon is visible because of this reflected light from the Earth. Fill in shadow, fill in light, as you might say.

Ezzy Pearson Yeah, it does always look quite striking.

Paul Money It can be quite beautiful. I have to say this sort of thing, you know, you have to for photography, you have to overexposed the crescent, the daylight sign, but it's worth it to get the Earthshine picture, I have to say. So that'll be a great view. In fact, I say, you've got these two stars with the Moon on the 5th quite close to it. So Upsilon and Kappa. So how about have a look at that? You never know what you might see. You might even better split Kappa 1 and 2. Actually with binoculars 10x50s, I would have thought you should be able to split them actually with 10x50s. So that's in the evening sky. But yes, we can't avoid the morning sky because on the morning of April the 5th, so earlier that day, we actually have to go back to the morning sky because Mars has caught up with Saturn and it lies directly below, Saturn's really at their closest, so you'll see these two stars. They're not touching, but they're bright with brilliant Venus off to the left. You look at about 5:30 in the morning now. So if you know, if you remember from last week, we were talking about six o'clock. And so it's because the sky is getting lighter now, Venus doesn't matter. But Mars and Saturn they're fainter. But I think it's just a gorgeous conjunction as such. The gap between the two planets and Venus is just over seven degrees, so if your binoculars give a great dim view of seven degrees. All right. So 7x50, something like that. But a lot of binoculars around at six to 6.5 degrees.

Ezzy Pearson Just not quite enough

Paul Money Exactly. Just just turns around Venus and then moved to the right and you'll have these two brilliant planets, Saturn and Mars popping into view as well. There we are, I will say it is an early morning job, but it just shows you that these planets are constantly moving. I mean, we were talking about Moon last week, sort of thing, were in a line up and now we've got like a really, really strange triangle. So we've Venus off to the left. And Saturn and Mars sort of thing. Mars is just below Saturn, really close together, but it is technically a triangle. Isn't it still a triangle? Just so have a look at that in the morning sky you're out walking your dog and you like to get up in Twilight, before the Sun. Some people do, some people are going to work. I've got various friends who go to work well, ungodly hours, I have to say. Mind you we astronomers do that don't we.

Ezzy Pearson I think that some people would say "You stayed up till four in the morning?"

Paul Money Yes. You must be mad. It's it's one of those things that you sometimes have to weigh up do, do you get in work late? I did once , ohh dear, I got into trouble? So there you are. You've got to wait it up. How much trouble you're going to get into. We asked at night, do not recommend you go into work late because of observing the night sky. You might get into trouble.

Paul Money Right now, we go back to the evening sky. Yes. Back to something more convenient more convenient. Nine o'clock in the evening. How convenient is that, nice time. I always think something just about the right time. So yes, we're back to the evening sky. Yippie, nine o'clock. The thing is that nice time when you finish your evening meal and you relax in and whatnot and it's before bedtime sort of thing. So nice time to go out. And yes, we're back to the growing phases of the Moon. It's becoming quite clear it's no longer a crescent. So on the 7th, it lies next to the open cluster Messier 35 in Gemini. It's a lovely cluster. Well worth having a look at sort of thing. So, you know, and again, it's one of those that if you've got darker skies, you can see the fainter companion cluster as well sort of thing with a telescope, but not for this evening, because the moonlight will wash that out. So that's on the 7th. Then as it happens, then the Moon will move through Gemini. It takes you can take three days, three nights to actually move through Gemini. Gemini is quite a decent sized constellation, depending on where the Moon enters the constellation. So it's in the middle, on the 8th and then on the 9th. It forms a straight line with the two brightest stars in Gemini, the heads of the twins Castor and Pollux. And think about Castor is it's one of those all the little diversions. So there will be the Moon helps you see the line-up. So put a telescope on Castor because it's a wonderful double star, too bright white headlights next to each other. But you do need reasonably high magnification sort of thing where about four arc seconds or so apart. So you know, well, is a nice pair of stars right next to each other and you realise that these stars... we're odd with our sun being on its own, aren't we sort of thing, you know? But many stars actually have not just one companion but often multiple companions. So Castor is a really lovely one to have a look at, and I say, you've got the moon forming this wonderful line up, it's almost directly in align with Castor and Pollux itself. So what we've got here is The Moon is heading towards first quarter, so that's when he's half illuminated to our eyes and on the 10th, the next evening It is actually at first quarter and it lies now in Cancer. And in fact, it's actually above the star Gamma Cancri. So there we are. Depends on how you want to pronounce it Can-kery. Can-sery? How do you pronounce it as you can try go Can-krey.

Ezzy Pearson Do you know, I haven't actually ever said it out loud. I've only ever written it down.

Paul Money You don't, you know, I mean, how many of you stand there saying it out loud? We don't do we? We have it in our head, sort of thing. But there you are. It's next to Gamma and below Gamma, sort of thing, you've actually got the cluster Messier 44. Now it's a lovely open cluster, it's the beehive open cluster, but the thing about this is that the moonlight being first quarter moon, it will actually start to drown out the fainter stars. But again, binoculars should show this faint wash stars with Gamma Canceri between it and the actual known as well. So well worth actually having a look at. And don't forget, you know, once the Moon's moved away, you know, sort of thing, although the sky will get lighter with the that the Moon's get in full of phase, you know? You know, once it's away, it's not quite the same effect. So you do have a look at the cluster itself, again, we've got it. It's a springtime cluster. But on the border of spring, so we will lose it in the next few months. But we've got plenty of time still to observe that particular cluster itself. But I like it when the Moon guides us to deep sky objects because often you know, you don't realise that there. If you only ever follow the Moon, you know, it's one of those things that it gives you guys just certain stars. So let's say we've mentioned Castor and Pollux. We mentioned natural Gamma Cancri as well. And this is one of the regular things these conjunctions with bright stars often helps draw your eye to the star that you probably wouldn't look at. And you know, it just so happens that quite a few of them are doubles. I'm not sure about Gamma. It doesn't ring a bell would've been a particularly popular double star, so I suspect it's single myself, but it's a nice little patch. But a bear in mind, I say the cluster might well be washed out a little bit with the actual moonlight itself. So there we are. There's a whole set... We had a bit of a mix, this time for one's night mix between morning and evening, starting with the evening for once dominating, which was actually good, wasn't it?

Ezzy Pearson Yeah, I think whatever you know, you like to observe and whenever you like to observe it, there's something good this week. So if the week of the 4th to the 10th of April, if there's something that you feel like getting out and stargazing, there's definitely lots of stuff for you to get out there and see. So thank you very much for taking your time to talk to us, Paul. Thank you very much. If you want to find out even more spectacular sights that will be gracing the night sky throughout the month, be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night magazine, where we have a 16 page pull up sky guide with a full overview of everything worth looking up for. Whether you like to look at the Moon, the planets or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes or neither our Sky Guide has got you covered with the detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky from all of us here at BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Goodbye.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of the Star Diary podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, which was produced in our Bristol studio by Brittany Collie. For more of our podcast, visit our website at or head to Acast, iTunes or Spotify.


Ezzy Pearson is the News Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Her first book about the history of robotic planetary landers is out now from The History Press.

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