April 2014 Night Photography Events Calendar

Each month I post a monthly night photography events calendar on the first day of the month. Events listed on this calendar are suitable for wide-field and moderate-telephoto astrophotography, as well as for general night photography. Unless otherwise stated, all events occur in the United States at mid-latitudes. Most of the events also occur at other locations, although some of them may require correction for latitude and longitude. The position of the Moon relative to the planets and stars changes throughout the night. Generally, when a position is given, it is for the period about 45 minutes after sunset or 45 minutes before sunrise. Do not confuse the times of the Moon phases for the times of Moonrise and Moonset. Consult local charts for rise and set times.

April of this year is a great month for night photographers, offering several good photo opportunities. A total eclipse of the moon occurs on the 15. Orion is starting to leave us and won’t return until autumn, but April is a great time to shoot the constellation as part of a twilight landscape scene as it lies low in the western sky after sunset. The nights are getting shorter in April, but they are warmer and not yet too hot to cause problems with noise. It’s a great time to be a night owl!

If you sign up for my free Night Photography News eNewsletter, you’ll receive each calendar two weeks early, on the 15th of the preceeding month. This will give you more time to plan your night shooting.

 

All month April is Global Astronomy Month.
All month Jupiter is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon and Venus. At sunset, it is high in the sky to the West, shining above Orion. It’s brightness dims from -2.0 to -2.2 during the month.
All month Mars is visible for most of the night. At sunset, it shines low in the Southeast and at sunrise it shines low in the West. It has a peak brightness of -1.5.
All month Saturn shines low in the sky to the Southwest at sunrise. In the evening, look for it low in the sky to the Southeast, a few hours after sunset. By the end of the month it shines at magnitude +0.1.  
All month Venus is the brilliant “morning star,” shining at about magnitude -4.3, making is easily the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. It shines low in the dawn twilight sky to the East-Southeast.
First half Orion, the night sky’s brightest and most prominent constellation, shines in the evening sky to the West-Southwest. It is well positioned for including in a twilight scene. During the first few days of the month you can shoot it with the Crescent Moon. By mid-month, Orion begins to set during twilight and won’t be as bright.
1 A very thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in the dusk twilight sky, looking West. Orion lies to the upper left, with Jupiter higher above.
1 The zodiacal light will be visible in the west after sunset from dark locations. See this blog post for more information. This will be the last good opportunity for viewing the zodiacal light until September.
2 A thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in dusk twilight sky, looking West. Orion lies to the upper left and Jupiter above.
3 A thin Crescent Moon shines in dusk twilight sky, looking West. Orion lies to the left and Jupiter above.
4 The Crescent Moon shines in dusk twilight sky, looking West. Orion lies to the left and Jupiter above.
7 First Quarter Moon at 4:31am.
15 Full Moon at 3:43am. Don’t forget, in addition to including the Full Moon as a complement to a landscape or urban scene, you can use the light from the Full (or nearly full) Moon to illuminate your scene.
15 A total eclipse of the Moon occurs for most of North America and western South America. The total eclipse stage begins at 3:07am and ends at 4:25am. The partial eclipse stage starts about an hour before and ends about an hour afterward. For those on the west coast, partial eclipse begins on the night of the 14th.  Look for Mars to the right of the eclipsed moon and Spica right below it.
22 The Lyrid Meteor Shower peaks this morning. The Lyrids usually produce only about 10 to 25 meteors per hour and the half-full moon will make the viewing even less ideal.
22 Third Quarter Moon at 3:52am.
24 The Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East. Venus shines to the lower left of the Moon.
25 A  thin Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East. Venus shines to the lower left of the Moon.
26 A thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking East. Venus shines to upper right of the Moon.
27 A sliver thin Crescent Moon shines low on the eastern dawn horizon. Venus shines to the upper right of the Moon.
29 New Moon at 2:15am. Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (as either pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the moon.
30 A sliver thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in dusk twilight sky, looking West-Northwest.
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