April 2015 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 terrific photo opportunities. A total eclipse of the moon occurs on the 4th, but those in the eastern half of the U.S. will not get to see all of totality. Orion is starting to leave us and won’t return until autumn. However, 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. The Lyrid meteor shower occurs on a moon-free night this year. And the Milky Way begins it’s warm-weather reign. 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.

First half Orion, the night sky’s brightest and most prominent constellation, shines in the evening sky to the Southwest. It is well positioned for including in a twilight scene. It sets soon after midnight. By the end of the month, Orion is very low on the horizon at sunset and sets before it gets fully dark.
All month April is Global Astronomy Month.
All month The Milky Way begins its reign of the summer sky. During the first of the month, at 3am, its arc is centered East at about 25° high and  it stretches from South to North. By the end of the month, it stands about 35° high during mid-morning. Since the peak of the Milky Way’s arc is so low, this is the time to shoot panoramas that show the Milky Way stretching across the frame.
All month Brilliant Venus (mag -4.1) shines in the dusk sky, looking West.
All month Jupiter shines high in the southern sky in the evening. It sets in the West-Southwest a couple hours before sunrise during the first of the month and sets around mid-morning by the end of the month. Shining at about mag -2.2, only Venus and the Moon are brighter.
All month At the first of the month, Saturn rises around midnight in the East-Southeast and stands about 30° high in the South-Southwest at dawn twilight. At the end of the month, the ringed planet rises about an hour before midnight and is about 20° high in the Southwest at dawn.
Last week Mercury shines very low on the horizon in the West-Northwest. It sets soon after sunset.
1 The second-longest full Moon in history begins today at 12:05am. Due to the rare alignment of planets, plus an unusually high concentration of interstellar particles within Earth’s orbit, the full moon phase will last between now and April  4. That’s right, you’ll get a totally full moon for four full nights! There will be some negatives associated with this event, such as high tides being 8 to 10 feet higher than normal, which will flood most coastal cities, but it will be a great opportunity for night photographers. In addition to the Moon being in full phase, the interstellar particles will cause it to turn bright blue and should give it a glowing effect. Never has the old saying “once in a blue Moon” been more applicable than beginning this morning at 12:05am.
4 Full Moon at 8:06am. This would be the only time of the full Moon if it weren’t for the unusual circumstances beginning on April 1. 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.
4 A total eclipse of the Moon occurs for much of North America in the morning hours. For those on the East Coast, the Moon sets before totality begins. Those in the western half of the U.S. will see the total portion of the eclipse in its entirety. Check out this site for more information.
7–20 The zodiacal light is 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.
10–13 Venus shines very close to the Pleiades star cluster in the western dusk sky.
11 Third quarter Moon at 11:44pm.
14 The  crescent Moon shines in the southeastern dawn sky.
15 A  thin crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast.
16 A very thin crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking East.
18 New Moon at 2:57pm. 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.
19 A  sliver thin crescent Moon shines extremely low on the horizon in the dusk sky, looking West. Mercury shines very close to the lower right of the Moon. They dip below the horizon about an hour after sunset.
20 A  very thin crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dusk sky, looking West. Venus shines above the Moon.
21 A  thin crescent Moon shines in the dusk sky, looking West. Venus shines to the right of the Moon.
22 The crescent Moon shines in the dusk sky, looking West. Venus shines to the lower right of the Moon.
23 The Lyrid Meteor Shower peaks this morning. The Lyrids usually produce about 10 to 25 meteors per hour in ideal viewing conditions, which will be the case this year. The crescent moon sets shortly after midnight on the 22nd, leaving the entire morning hours of the 23rd under dark skies.
25 Spring Astronomy Day.
25 First quarter Moon at 7:55pm.
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