Podcaster: Rob Webb

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Title: Observing With Webb in April 2022

Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School

Link: ; ;
follow me : @MrWebbPV on Twitter and Instagram

This podcast is found on: Podbean page, Stitcher, and iTunes.  There’s also a video version on YouTube Channel. and I can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @mrwebbpv

The Pequea Valley Planetarium and its events and updates are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @pvplanetarium.

Use a sky map from to help you out.


Quite the exciting month for planets…if you like getting up early.  4 of the 5 visible planets are hanging out together in the mornings, with Mercury having its best apparition for the year in the evenings, along with two conjunctions of morning planets and some possible meteors.

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Quite the exciting month for planets…if you like getting up early.  4 of the 5 visible planets are hanging out together in the mornings, with Mercury having its best apparition for the year in the evenings, along with two conjunctions of morning planets and some possible meteors.

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night. 

Naked-eye PLANETS

Sunset – Mercury (last week or two of April)

  • Mercury (WNW) – It sounds like this apparition of Mercury will be the best one of the year.  The last two weeks of April it SHOULD be visible, but the 30th will be the best day, given Mercury will be higher in the sky than ever, and doesn’t set until 9:45pm.  Just get out after sunset, look WNW, and the first point of light you’ll see is Mercury.  BONUS: On the 30th, Mercury will be right next to the Pleiades.  Get out some binoculars or a low-power scope to see both of them in the same view.

Throughout the night – None

Morning – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn (SE)

Let’s use Venus as our guidepost for the month, as it is the most visible object in the morning sky.

  • Venus (SE) – Keep an eye out after 5am, looking SE, for the highlight of the spring and summer mornings this year, Venus.  About 20˚ above the horizon and almost impossible to miss, the brightest object in the morning sky will blaze as a “morning star”.
  • Mars (SE) – Mars starts February about 5˚ to the right of Venus, with Saturn nearby as well.  Mars is considerably dimmer than Venus, so you’ll have to get out there before dawn starts, when it’s still dark, and look right around Venus for it.  Throughout April, Venus moves away from Mars to be about 15˚ to the right by the 30th.
  • Saturn (SE) – Saturn begins the month in between Mars and Venus, but a little lower. By the 5th, Saturn passes Mars in its rightward march away from the cluster of planets, and is less than one degree away from Mars.  Onward through the month, Saturn continues to move rightward, ending April about 17˚ degrees to the right of Mars.
  • Jupiter (SE) ­– Jupiter is coming into its own as a morning planet this month.  On April 1st, it rises after 6am, so it will be low and hard to see in twilight, and far away (25˚ to the left) from the cluster of Venus, Saturn, and Mars.  Each day from there though, it rises earlier and is higher, pretty easily visible by mid-month, when Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn are lined up and about equally spaced. Venus then closes in on Jupiter, and on April 30th, the pair are less than 1˚ apart, rise around 5am, and are easily visible.


New Moon – 1st (darkest skies)

Evening Crescents (look West after Sunset)

First Quarter Moon – 9th (Visible until midnight)

Evening Gibbous (Mostly lit, after Sunset)

Full Moon – 16th (Visible all night)

Waning Gibbous (Mostly lit, rises later at night)

Last Quarter Moon – 23rd (Visible from midnight into the morning)

Morning Crescents (look East in the AM)

5th CONJUNCTION – MARS, SATURN The first of a couple conjunctions this month, go out early in the morning after about 5am and find Venus (the brightest one). About 7˚ to the right of Venus will be both Mars and Saturn less than half a degree apart.  Them being so close should allow some good telescope opportunities, astrophotos, and a chance to see how differently colored they are, Mars being red, Saturn typically described as light caramel.

22nd LYRID METEOR SHOWER – At only 10-20 meteors per hour, it is a minor shower, and we have a Moon washing out the fainter ones starting at 2:30am.  You’ll still be able to see SOME meteors at night, but don’t get too excited.  The shower is greatest on the 22nd, but you might see some on the 21st and 23rd as well.  Just remember each meteor is piece of debris left over from a comet, and we’re crashing into it at over 100,000 miles per hour, which crushes the atmosphere it hits, heating it up and causing the bright flash.

Some advice for watching:

Find a dark location and lie down in a reclining chair or something that insulates you from the ground.

Check the weather to see if the skies will be clear

Adapt your eyes to the dark by staying away from light sources or using a red light if you need to look at a star chart or not trip over something. 

If you’re feeling extra nerdy, do a scientific meteor count (S&T and IMO)

23rd – 27thClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Saturn – The Moon joins the sunrise planet party this week!  To set the scene, each morning get out between 4:30am and 5am, and you’ll be able to see Venus, with Jupiter to the left 6˚, Mars to the right 13˚, and Saturn about 13˚ further to the right.  From left to right, that’s Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Saturn.  What happens over the next week or so is the Moon travels through the lineup.  On the 23rd, the Moon is 22˚ to the right of Saturn, and then move to only about 10˚ to the right on the 24th.  On the 25th, the Moon moves between and below Mars and Saturn, making a nice triangle.  Then it switches dance partners up on the 26th, moving between and below Venus and Mars.  Finally, on the 27th the Moon is closest to some planets for this trip, about 5˚ below both Venus and Jupiter. 

30thCONJUNCTION – Jupiter, Venus – Only ½˚ apart!  Get out there by 5am at the latest (they rise at 4:30am) and look ESE with a decently low horizon and find the VERY bright Venus with also bright Jupiter less than a pinky-width to the left. Get out that telescope and see both of them in the same view!

30thClose Encounter – Mercury, Pleiades – Get out just after sunset, with a nice view of the NWN horizon.  The first light in the sky will be Mercury, in its crescent phase, with the Pleiades about 1˚ to the right.  Get your binoculars and scopes out!

30thPartial Solar Eclipse (that you probably won’t see) – Only visible in western South America and the ocean around there.  Check social media for pictures and live streams!


Use a sky map from to help you out.

After Dinner:

Leo, Orion & his winter companions – Leo will be high in the South, almost straight above you. It has a backward question mark with a right triangle to the left of the question mark. Also, take a moment to get your last glimpse Orion, Taurus, the Pleiades, Gemini, Auriga, and Canis Major off in the West.

Before Bed:

Big Dipper, Bootes – If you look above Leo, behind you and high in the sky, you should find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.

Before Work:

Lyra, Hercules, Hercules Cluster – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Next to that is a keystone shaped constellation called Hercules. On the right side of the keystone is a small cluster of stars known at the Hercules Cluster, which is a collection of hundreds of stars on the outskirts of our galaxy. Given how high it is in the sky right now, you might catch its faint fuzziness with your naked eye, but a set of binoculars or a small telescope will really help you see it.

End of podcast:

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