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.
August 3, 2021: Four planets appear in the evening sky. Brilliant Evening Star Venus and dim Mars are in the west after sunset. A little later during the evening, Saturn and Jupiter are easily visible in the southeast.
August 2, 2021: Saturn is at opposition with the sun. Earth is between the sun and the planet.
August 1 – 6, 2021: The morning moon wanes toward its New moon phase in the eastern sky. It passes the bright stars that are prominent in the evening sky during the winter season in the northern hemisphere. The stars have been making their first appearances in the morning sky during summer. At this hour, Procyon and bright Sirius are the last stellar duo to appear.
August 6, 2021: In the northern hemisphere, summer’s midpoint occurs today at 6:27 p.m. CDT.
July 31, 2021: The slightly gibbous moon, nearing its Last Quarter phase, is in the southeast as morning twilight begins. It is near the planet Uranus, easily within reach of a binocular. Mira, a variable star, reaches its brightest next month.