Stargazing in Fluvanna


Welcome to this month’s highlights of enjoyable events that will happen in the evening and morning skies above!

There is no doubt that we can all be excited about witnessing the spectacular events that will occur this April.  The highlight this month is the solar eclipse that will occur on April 8. The solar eclipse occurs when the Sun’s light is concealed by the moon as it travels between the Earth and the Sun, and casts a shadow over the Sun.  

Unfortunately, we in Fluvanna County won’t witness a total solar eclipse; instead, we will see a partial eclipse between 2 p.m. to around 4:31 p.m. with the peak being around 3:15 p.m., that is about 87 percent in magnitude (, a magnitude that is still pretty spectacular!  

To see a total solar eclipse, you would need to travel to areas such as Austin and Dallas TX, Indianapolis, IN; Cleveland, OH; Buffalo/Niagara Falls,  NY; and Aroostook County, Greenville, and Jackman, ME.   For those of you who want to view the partial solar eclipse, please make certain you do so only with eyeglasses especially made for eclipse viewing.  Fluvanna County government is offering free eclipse eye glasses on April 1, so do take advantage of this generous offering in preparation of your eclipse viewing.

Another highlight this month is the return of the Lyrid meteor shower.  A weeklong presence of these meteors should provide us with the opportunity to spot some of them.  As the month progresses, we will have plenty of stars and constellations to view. So, let’s get ready for this month’s celestial countdown by getting your star gazing equipment cleaned and set up, your cell phones fully charged to use the Sky Guide or Sky View Lite star gazing applications, and your favorite outdoor chair in place for looking at the sky!   

Some fun events that will happen in April  2024 include the following events [extracted from Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2024 – Sea and Sky (’; The Night Sky in April 2024 | Day By Day Astronomy Events (  NASA Science Space Place (]

Week 1 (April 1-7)

On April 1, the moon is in its last quarter; the left half of the moon can be seen, while the right  side is dark.  

On April 5, the planet Mars will appear close to the moon and will be visible to see this evening.  

On April 7, the moon is closest to the Earth, an event known as the Moon at Perigee.  As a result of this position, the moon will appear to be a bit larger than at other times of the year.  

Week 2 (April 8-13)

On April 8, Fluvanna County will witness a solar eclipse from mid-day around 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Recall that in late March, we experienced a lunar eclipse.  An interesting fact about these two eclipses is they are closely related to one another.  A solar eclipse follows a lunar eclipse about two weeks after the occurrence of a lunar eclipse.  The reason this occurs is because it takes about 14 days for the moon to travel mid-way around the Earth and get back to a position where the moon, Sun, and Earth again visually intersect in the sky. 

Other events this week include the moon becoming a new moon; the side of the moon that is enlightened by the Sun faces away from the Earth  and the moon is not visible.   

Mars will shine orange while Saturn will look yellow when these planets are closely aligned on April 10.  

On April 11, the bright star grouping known as the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) will appear near the moon and be visible in the night sky.  The star, Pollux, of the Gemini constellation will also appear near the moon.   

Week 3 (April 14-20)

On April 15 the moon moves into the first quarter phase when we will see the right side of the moon eliminated brightly, while the left side is dark.  

On April 15, federal income taxes are also due.  Oops, wrong calendar event but don’t forget to file your federal taxes by the end of this day!

You will be able to see the bright star, Regulus, in the Leo constellation best on April 18.

The moon moves into its apogee, the name for the moon’s orbital position where it is farthest from the Earth, on April 19.  The moon will appear a bit smaller in the sky at this time.

Weeks 4 and 5 (April 21-30) 

We end the month with some spectacular celestial events.  From April 14-April 23, the Lyrid meteor shower, an annual event, will occur.  This meteor shower can display up to 18 meteors an hour, however the full moon might diminish viewing opportunities. The meteors are debris from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.  

The moon advances to a full moon on April 23.  The moon has certainly played an important role in the night sky this month.  Ending the month in its full moon phase gives our exemplary  performer its appropriate acknowledgement for a job well done! 

Those are some of the highlights for specific days during April. It has been an exciting month; solar eclipses are always special events, perhaps because they take a long time to return to one location.  It can be years before the moon, Earth, and Sun align so that a particular geographical place on Earth can experience a total solar eclipse.  

Enjoy your sky gazing throughout April and remember to look up at the sky at any time because you will always see something amazing.  Remember to check the ISS app to determine when it will pass over Fluvanna County and be sure to check the various websites that regularly update information about celestial events.  My favorite sites include those maintained by NASA, the American Astronomical Society, and   

Until next month, keep your eyes facing the morning and evening sky to see the wonders of our universe as we Earthlings travel through it!

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