Society News and Night Sky Notes – April 2002

Society News Headlines


Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service.

The Night Sky as seen from Liverpool at any time, Click Here.

The Sun and Moon

All times are in BRITISH SUMMER TIME (BST). Times For Observer in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, U.K.


Latitude 53 degs 24 mins North.
Longitude +3.0 degs West.

           Apr 1st     Apr 6th     11th      16th      21st      26th        May 1st
SUNRISE    06:47        06:35      06:23     06:11     06:00     05:48       05:49
SUNSET     19:47        19:56      20:05     20:14     20:23     20:32       20:41

on 12th
at 20h:22m
on 20th
at 13h:49m
on 27th
at 04h:01m
on 4th
at 16h:30m



Info Sheet: Mercury, Venus, Saturn and the Moon in the western evening sky during April and May 2002

Info Sheet: Mercury, Venus, Saturn and the Moon in the western evening sky during April and May 2002

Mercury starts off a very favourable evening apparition this month and it is worth making the effort to locate this swift-moving planet. From the 21st onwards look to the right of west about 10° above the horizon at the time of civil twilight, using THIS TABLE to help guide you. Evening apparitions always start off bright with the magnitude fading as the planet’s phase lessens. On April 16th Mercury is magnitude -1.4 but ny May 16th this has dropped to +2.7 with an almost full phase early on, shortening to 13% crescent phase at the end of the apparition. On April 29th/30th Mercury lies 1.5° south of the fine, wide open star cluster the Pleiades in Taurus.


Venus should by now be highly visible in the west, setting just on two hours after the Sun does. On the 14th the Moon passes 3.5° south of Venus at 19hr whilst on the 21st/22nd Venus passes 4° south of the Pleiades star cluster.


Mars is starting to fade but is still hanging on in the western sky, setting two hours after the Sun. Watch over April and May as Mars and Venus start to move closer to each other, leading up to a close encounter early next month. Travelling through Taurus Mars passes 3.5° south of the Pleiades on the 14th, 4.5° north of delta Tauri on the 23rd, 3.5° north of epsilon Tauri on the 25th and also on the 25th to close 10′ north of kappa Tauri. On the 16th Mars is 3° north of the Moon.


  • 3 Juno is at solar conjunction on April 28th.
  • 4 Vesta remains in Taurus during the Month.

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter is travelling through Gemini with the Moon lying in close attendance less than a degree south of the Moon on the 19th.

Launched in October 1989, the Galileo Jupiter Probe entered orbit around the great planet on December 7th 1995. The Project Galileo Homepage will give you up-to-date information and the very latest images returned.


Saturn, can be found in Taurus, a good way to the right of Jupiter. On the 24th a view through a pair of binoculars will show Saturn passing 2° north of the star cluster NGC1647 but the highlight of Saturn’s year is an occultation by the Moon at 21:55 on the 16th. Like Jupiter’s occultations earlier this year Saturn will spend several tens of seconds gradually disappearing behind the Moon’s dark limb. Saturn reappears from behind the Moon’s bright limb at 22:25. If the sky is dark enough use a telescope to search for Saturn’s large satellite Titan to the right of the planet as this will be occulted at 21:53 therefore giving a couple of minutes warning of the approaching lunar disk.

Saturn’s Lunar Occultation on April 16th
Info Sheet: Lunar Occultation of Saturn, 20:45 on 16th April, 2002

Info Sheet: Lunar Occultation of Saturn, 20:45 on 16th April, 2002

Moon is 15% illuminated.


Uranus is slowly recovering from its February solar conjunction, and can be seen at Mag 5.9 in Aquarius.

 Positions for the 1st April

                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      21h:59m:02s           -13°:04':11"                   09h:33m             5.9

Like Uranus, Neptune is recovering from its solar conjunction in January and at mag 7.9 in Capricornus the approaching twilight will hinder chances of locating this outer planets.

 Positions for the 1st April

                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      20h:51m:44s           -17°:31'02"                   08h:25m             7.9


Pluto can be found on the border of Ophiuchus at mag 13, below and to right of the 4th magnitude stars eta Ophiuchi, and below and to the left of zeta Ophiuchi.The best time to look for the planet is around New Moon. The dates below will be a guide for planning observations.


Positions for April are when pluto's elongation angle is greater than 90°.

DATE                      R.A.                   DEC                   TRANSIT TIME
April  1st             17h:09m:44s            -12°:51':24"                 04hr:42m
April 11th             17h:09m:23s            -12°:48':52"                 04hr:02m
April 21st             17h:08m:51s            -12°:46':23"                 03hr:22m

Pluto is best seen between April 4th – April 20th.


  • April 12th VIRGINIDS & alpha Virginids (6 per hour) Favourable
  • April 22nd/23rd APRIL LYRIDS (15? per hour) Fairly Favourable.
  • April 28th ALPHA SCORPIIDS (5 per hour) Unfavourable.


  • 6th April Comet C/2002 B2 (Linear) at Perihelion (3.843AU).
  • 10th April Comet C/2002 C2 (Linear) at Perihelion (3.254AU).
  • 20th April Comet C/2002 B1 (Linear) at Perihelion (2.271AU).
  • 21st April Comet C/2002 A3 (Linear) at Perihelion (5.147AU).
  • 29th April Comet C/2002 C1 (Ikeya – Zhang) closest to Earth at 0.405AU).
  • 30th April Comet C/2000 SV74 (Linear) at Perihelion (3.542AU).

Plus these pages will give daily and weekly reports of this and other Comets progress.


  • April 21st at 02h:53m Disappearance of gamma Cancri.
  • April 16th at 21h:55m Disappearance of Planet Saturn. mag 0.3.
  • April 16th at 22h:25m Reappearance of Planet Satrun. (Bright Limb).