A Pink Supermoon rises behind the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park in Hoboken, New Jersey, in April 2021. Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn have been lined up in the sky this month, and by the end of April the Moon will join them, astronomers say. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Early risers waking up before the crack of dawn will be rewarded with great views of the planets through the end of the month, and the daily spectacle will be even more impressive at the start of next week.
Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn have lined up in the early morning sky and will continue to glow in a row throughout the rest of April. The quartet can be easily seen without a telescope in the eastern sky, and another celestial object will join the alignment early next week.
The crescent moon will appear near the four planets about an hour before sunrise on Monday, April 25, and Tuesday, April 26.
The two-day event means that folks can check the AccuWeather forecast to see which morning will have the better viewing conditions before waking up early to enjoy the sights in the eastern sky.
A fifth planet will be hidden in plain sight near the bottom of the alignment, going unnoticed except for those with a little help.
Neptune will appear near Venus and Jupiter on April 25 and April 26 however, it will be difficult to spot as the planet is too dim to see without the help of a telescope.
People new to using a telescope will have some help finding the distant world as it will appear directly between Jupiter and Venus. Neptune will look like a small blue dot, seeing itself apart from the other planets and stars visible in this area of the sky before sunrise.
The morning planets will be worth another look on April 30 and May 1 as Jupiter and Venus pass extremely close to each other.
Astronomers refer to this type of planetary meetup as a conjunction, and it will be the closest Jupiter and Venus have appeared in the night sky since Nov. 24, 2019.
Skywatchers should also keep an eye out for shooting stars as the annual Lyrid meteor shower will remain active until April 29.
Hourly rates will not be as impressive as the 15 to 20 per hour expected on the night of Thursday, April 21, but a few meteors are still possible throughout the early morning when the planetary alignment is visible.
The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on November 8. Photo courtesy of NASA