This evening the crescent moon appears in the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset, over 30° to the lower right of Jupiter. In a darker sky, Jupiter continues to close in on Saturn before the Great Conjunction as Mars picks up speed toward the east among the stars of Pisces.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:41 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:30 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The thin crescent moon can be found low in the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset. It is over 30° to the lower right of Jupiter that is in the south-southwest. Find a clear horizon toward the southwest to see the moon. A tripod-mounted camera with exposures up to 10 seconds can capture earthshine – sunlight reflected from the earth’s features gently illuminates the night portion of the moon.
As the sky darkens further, Saturn is visible 3.6° to the upper left of Jupiter. The gap between the two giant planets continues to shrink as Jupiter slowly overtakes Saturn, leading up to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.
With a binocular notice that the two planets are in a dim starfield. Tonight, they make a small triangle with the dim star 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr on the chart) and Jupiter is 3.3° to the upper left of dim 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).
Jupiter sets in the west at 8:45 p.m. CST (4 hours, 15 minutes after sunset) and Saturn follows several minutes later.
Mars is farther east, about one-third of the way up in the east-southeast. In the starfield, Mars is slowly moving eastward after appearing to reverse its direction a few evenings ago. It will pick up its eastward march among the dim stars of Pisces. This evening Mars is 3.1° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc on the chart) and 3.0° below Delta Piscium (δ Psc).
The Red Planet sets in the west at 3:30 a.m. CST, about 3 hours, 10 minutes before sunrise.
For more about Mars during November, see this article.
Detailed note: In the evening forty-five minutes after sunset, the moon (1.8d, 4%) is 5.0° up in the southwest. As the sky darkens further, Saturn is about 24° up in the south-southwest, 3.6° to the upper left of bright Jupiter. Saturn and Jupiter make a triangle with 56 Sgr. Saturn is 2.6° to the lower left of the star, while Jupiter is 2.4° to the lower right. The Jovian Giant is 3.3° to the upper left of 50 Sgr. Farther east, Mars is 30.0° in altitude in the east-southeast. The Red Planet is 3.1° to the lower right of ε Psc and 3.0° below δ Psc.
Read more about the planets during November.
This morning’s planets.
October 5, 2021: Before sunrise, a very thin moon is visible in the eastern sky. The evening planet pack – Evening Star Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible at the same time after sundown.
October 29, 2021: Today is the date for equal daylight and equal darkness for about 42° north latitude. This is not to be confused with the autumnal equinox.
October 4, 2021: Before sunrise, the razor-thin lunar crescent is low in the eastern sky.
October 3, 2021: Before sunrise, the thin crescent moon is in the eastern sky, to the lower left of Regulus. After sunset, the planet pack – Evening Star Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – shine brightly.
October 2, 2021: The crescent moon appears near the head of Leo in the eastern sky this morning before sunrise.