Observing

Seek out 1998 OR2, the brightest predicted near-Earth asteroid encounter of 2020

12 April 2020 Ade Ashford

A near-Earth object (NEO) and potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) with the catchy official name of 52768 (1998 OR2) passes just 16.4 lunar distances (6.3 million kilometres) from Earth at 09:56 UT on Wednesday, 29 April 2020. Here’s our guide to locating this fascinating asteroid in 15-cm (6-inch) aperture telescopes and smaller from the UK this month.

Observing

See the waning crescent Moon meet the dawn planets, 15–16 April 2020

9 April 2020 Ade Ashford

There’s a lot of planetary activity in the dawn sky in mid-April. If you’re an early riser in the British Isles, let the waning crescent Moon be your guide to the naked-eye planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars on 15 and 16 April 2020. Typical 7×50 or 10×50 binoculars will show these attractive conjunctions well, while the smallest of telescopes also reveal some of Jupiter’s bright Galilean moons.

Observing

Don’t miss the largest supermoon of 2020 on 8 April

7 April 2020 Ade Ashford

The full Moon of 8 April 2020 occurs just 8½ hours after perigee, its closest point to Earth in the oval-shaped lunar orbit. A full Moon occurring close to perigee is popularly called a supermoon, and this one will be 8½ percent larger than average. This is also the closest full Moon of the year and we’ll not see one larger until 5 November 2025.

Observing

Get ready for Comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4) in the northern spring sky!

2 April 2020 Ade Ashford

Comet C/2019 Y4 was discovered by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) on 28 December last year and brightened 6000-fold in just two months to attain magnitude +7.5 on 1 April. Alas, the comet’s nucleus has now fragmented, dashing hopes for a conspicuous naked-eye spectacle in the constellation of Perseus. Here’s our telescopic observing guide.

Observing

Look out for asteroid Juno at opposition

2 April 2020 Mark Armstrong

One of the largest objects in the Asteroid Belt, (3) Juno, comes to opposition on 2 April, when it lies directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth, and is at its brightest – albeit still only visible through telescopes.