January 2, 2021: The bright gibbous moon shines from the western sky before sunrise, near the star Regulus. Venus is low in the southeast before sunrise. Our planet reaches its closest point to the sun (perihelion) at 7:51 a.m. CST.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:32 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The gibbous moon that is 88% illuminated shines brightly from the western sky this morning. Stand outside to let your eyes adapt to the darkness and you’ll see your shadow from the light of this moon phase. If you live in the northern latitudes, the snow-covered ground may reflect the moon’s shine.
If you look carefully, you’ll spot Regulus about 8° to the left of the moon. Castor and Pollux, the Gemini Twins, are to the lower right of Regulus and the moon. Depending on the obstructions from your observing spot, you might see Procyon above the western horizon.
Farther east, brilliant Venus shines from low in the southeast at about 45 minutes before sunrise. It is slowly slipping into the sun’s glare as it heads for its superior conjunction (with the sun) during late March.
This morning, the star Antares is over 13° to the upper right of the brilliant planet.
Find a clear horizon toward the southeast, Venus is only about 6° in altitude at this time.
This morning our planet reaches its closest point to the sun (perihelion) at 7:51 a.m. CST.
Read about Venus during January.
Detailed Note: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, brilliant Venus is about 6° up in the southeast. The bright moon (18.8d, 88%) is 36° up in the west. The lunar orb is 8.4° to the right of Regulus. Earth is at its closest point to the sun in its solar orbit, 0.9832 astronomical unit from the sun, at 7:51 a.m. CST.
Read more about the planets during January.
April 21, 2021: Evening Star is making its first appearance in the west-northwest shortly after sunset. The gibbous moon is near Leo, while Mars is near the foot of Castor.
April 21, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are the bright morning planets in the southeast before sunrise. The stars are in front of the backdrop of Capricornus. The constellation looks like an oversized boomerang or stealth fighter.
April 20, 2021: Venus is very low in the west-northwest after sunset. The gibbous moon is in Cancer, between Regulus and Pollux. Mars, above the horns of Taurus, approaches the star cluster Messier 35.
April 20, 2021: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky before sunrise, gently moving eastward compared to the starry backdrop of Capricornus.
April 19, 2021: The first evening appearance of Venus for this apparition occurs this evening. Look for it low in the west-northwest about 20 minutes after sunset.