Big dipper constellation in a dark blue sky

Minnesota Skies: April 2022

Learn more about what to see in April's night sky!

Published03/28/2022 , by Deane Morrison

As April opens, the stage is set for some serious planetary action in the morning sky. 

On April Fools’ Day, Venus, Saturn, and Mars sit close to each other above the eastern horizon, almost equally spaced and in that order from left to right. Don’t be fooled—Saturn is rapidly gaining altitude, and on April 5 it passes less than a moon width above Mars. As the month goes on, the three planets spread farther and farther apart while staying in a line. On April 25, Mars will be exactly midway between Saturn and Venus.

Around April 21, Jupiter appears to the lower left of Venus; the gap between them narrows rapidly. Try looking on April 25-26, when a waning moon appears with the planets, or on April 30 or May 1, when Jupiter passes above Venus. Whichever day(s) you choose, it’s best to get out just as the day starts to break, to ensure all the expected objects have risen but none have yet been swallowed by the sun’s foreglow.

A diagram showing where Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn are in relation to the Moon.

In the evening sky, the spring constellation Leo, the lion, is high in the southeast to south at nightfall. Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, anchors a backward question mark of stars called the Sickle, which outlines the lion’s head. East of the Sickle shines a triangle of stars marking the hindquarters and tail. 

Look between Regulus and Pollux, the brighter Gemini twin, for the Beehive star cluster. It’s slightly closer to Pollux, and you may need a star map or binoculars. The Beehive is also called Praesepe, Latin for “manger.” Framing the cluster are two stars called Aselli, or asses, that feed at the manger.

April’s full moon crosses the sky the night of April 16. It follows Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, the maiden. Virgo is large and rather dim, but you may notice Corvus, the crow, an irregularly shaped four-sided figure just west of Spica.