April 2022 is a month of the celestial parade as five planets will align with an asteroid, a comet, and the Moon as seen from the Earth. But as the planets arrange themselves in a near straight-line configuration, they’ll end up in close conjunctions with other planets in that part of the sky. April has five close planetary conjunctions, and one of them will be even more spectacular than the 2020 Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. In this article, all the details regarding planetary conjunctions have been discussed.
To read about the celestial parade and the date of alignment of the planets, please refer to this article. Also, make sure you download one of these space apps. They will surely help you locate the planets quickly according to your place.
April 5: Saturn-Mars Conjunction
The first of the five conjunctions will be the Saturn-Mars conjunction on April 5. The two planets will be just 0°19′ apart in the southeastern predawn sky. They’ll be shining close to Venus, the brightest planet. Saturn will be brighter at an apparent magnitude of +0.70 compared to Mars at mag +1.00. An apparent magnitude is a number that measures the brightness of a celestial object. The smaller the number, the more luminous the object appears. You can read about the concept in our Basics of Astrophysics series.
Mars and Saturn will be close enough to fit within the view of a telescope but can also be seen through a pair of binoculars or naked eyes. Both the planets will be in Capricornus. After the conjunction, Saturn will keep gaining altitude in the dawn sky as its distance from the Sun increases.
April 12: Jupiter-Neptune Conjunction
While Saturn passes close to Venus and Mars in the predawn sky, Jupiter and Neptune will pair up on April 12, closer to the horizon. However, since Neptune’s apparent magnitude exceeds the naked eye limit of +6.00, it won’t be visible to unaided eyes. So instead, you’ll need a telescope to see the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction. The two planets will be just 0°06′ apart in Aquarius. That’s the same angular separation as between Jupiter and Saturn during the 2020 Great Conjunction.
After a close encounter with Neptune, Jupiter will keep gaining altitude and soon meet the brightest planet in the sky – a celestial view you should not miss!
April 18: Mercury-Uranus Conjunction
Finally, something for dusk sky gazers! While all the planets have clustered in the southeastern predawn sky, Mercury and Uranus will put up a show in the southwestern dusk sky. The two planets will be 2°08′ apart in Aries. Even if you have a telescope, this will be extremely challenging because Mercury won’t be high enough in the dusk sky. The evening twilight will wash the planet. Hence, you’ll need access to high grounds and haze-free skies to see the planets.
April 28: Venus-Neptune Conjunction
As Neptune gains altitude in the predawn sky, it will pass close to Venus in Aquarius. It’s a pairing of the brightest and the faintest planet in the solar system. But what’s interesting is that the angular separation between the two planets will reduce to exactly 0.00 degrees at 19:07 UTC. However, the separation will increase when they become visible in the predawn sky on April 28, but they’ll still be quite close to each other.
April 30 – May 1: Jupiter-Venus Conjunction
And here comes the most spectacular conjunction.
As Jupiter gains altitude in the predawn sky, it will pass close to Venus. They will be just 13.8 arcminutes of each other. Although this is double the separation compared to the 2020 Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, this planetary conjunction is unique because Jupiter and Venus are two of the brightest planets in the solar system, as seen from the Earth. During the Great Conjunction, the two planets had an apparent magnitude of -1.82 and +0.64.
In the upcoming Jupiter-Venus conjunction, the two will have an apparent magnitude of -1.96 and -4. Hence, Jupiter and Venus will produce an even more spectacular view in the dawn sky that will be easily visible with naked eyes.
Learn Astrophysics at home
Did you always want to learn how the universe works? Then, read our 30-article Basics of Astrophysics series free of cost. From the popular topics such as stars, galaxies, and black holes to the detailed concepts of the subject like the concept of magnitude, the Hertzsprung Russell diagram, redshift, etc., there is something for everyone in this series. All the articles are given here. Happy reading!