moon tree

Moonwise Calendars and Diaries

Moonwise home page Moonwise Calendar Moonwise Diaries online ordering
Moonwise on Facebook latest newsletter watching the sky dates
site index & links live calendar page live diary page  

Wednesday, 25 April 2018  •  Wednesday, 10 Willow Moon 2018

Watching the night sky in Willow Moon 2018

16 April - 15 May 2018

Map of night sky at full moon: 30 April, 00:58 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Willow Moon 2018

Venus continues its journey away from the far side of the sun and into our evening sky. On the evening of 17 April, the new crescent moon is below the bright planet. On 27 April, Venus passes between the Pleiades and Aldebaran, the bright star of Taurus.

Jupiter is very prominent all night, albeit relatively low down as seen from the northern hemisphere. It rises earlier and earlier in the evening, until on 9 May it is opposite the sun and rises around sunset. It is closest to Earth on 10 May, at 658 million kilometres, or 36.6 light minutes. Look through binoculars or a small telescope to see its four main moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, as they change position from hour to hour. With a slightly larger telescope, look for the red spot. For half an hour either side of 23:00 (22:00 UTC) on 9 May, you can see both the spot and the moon Io (along with its shadow) crossing the face of the planet. On the evening of 30 April, the moon is near Jupiter.

At the start of the lunar month, Mars and Saturn are together in the morning sky, in the constellation Sagittarius, with Mars the brighter of the two, and nearer the horizon. They rise an hour or two after midnight. During the course of the month, both planets brighten as they come towards opposition as well, but Mars brightens more noticeably. Mars also gradually moves away from Saturn, so that by the end of the month it rises about an hour and a half after the ringed planet, depending on your location. On 15 May, Mars enters Capricornus. On the morning of 5 May, the moon is near Saturn, and on 6 May, the moon is near Mars. By the end of the month, Saturn rises before midnight.

On 29 April, Mercury reaches 27 degrees west of the sun in the eastern morning sky, a poor view from the north, but well seen from the southern hemisphere, where it can be seen all month before sunrise. On the morning of 13 May, as seen from the south, the old crescent moon is near Mercury. That morning, Mercury is also passing two degrees south of Uranus. This much fainter ice giant can be seen through binoculars.

Look out for the Lyrid meteors on the night 22/23 April, and for the Eta Aquarids on 6/7 May, in both cases especially after midnight.

The month ahead: Hawthorn Moon 2018

16 May - 13 June 2018

Map of night sky at full moon: 29 May, 14:20 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Hawthorn Moon 2018

Venus is the evening star, and continues to climb slowly away from the sunset, ever brightening. On the evening of 17 May, the new crescent moon is nearby. On 9 & 10 June, Venus is in a line with Pollux and Castor, the bright stars of Gemini.

Jupiter shines very brightly in the evening and night sky in the constellation Libra. Mid-month it sets around two hours before sunrise. On the evening of 27 May, the moon is nearby.

Saturn is in the night and morning sky in the northern part of Sagittarius, rising in the late evening, and brightening as it approaches opposition next month. On the night 31 May - 1 June, the just past full moon is very close north of Saturn.

Mars rises an hour or two after Saturn, and is significantly brighter. It brightens throughout the month as it approaches its nearest pass to Earth in July, when it will be even brighter than Jupiter. For northern hemisphere viewers, it is low in the sky, as it is well to the south, even lying somewhat south of the general plane of the solar system. This lunar month, it passes through the western part of Capricornus. On the night of 2-3 June, the moon is nearby. By the end of the month, Mars rises around midnight, depending on your location, and then you can see both very bright planets in the sky, with Saturn in between.

For the first week of the lunar month, Mercury is still visible in the southern hemisphere’s eastern morning sky, but then passes the far side of the sun on 6 June.

William Morris
Send feedback