March 3, 2021: The bright moon is near Zubenelgenubi. Three bright planets are visible before sunrise.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:22 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:44 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
About an hour before sunrise, the bright gibbous moon is about one-third of the way up in the south-southwestern sky. It is 6.7° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi (“the southern claw”). It was once viewed as part of Scorpius. Zubeneschamali, “the northern claw,” is nearby. Today, the stars are mapped in the constellational Libra.
Three planets – Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn – are farther east. Thirty minutes before sunrise, use a binocular to find them above the east-southeast horizon. Jupiter is about 5° above the horizon. Mercury is 1.2° to Jupiter’s upper right. Saturn is 8.4° to the upper right of Jupiter. Jupiter and Mercury are easily visible within a single binocular field. Saturn is outside the Jupiter – Mercury field, and to the planet pair’s upper right. Find Jupiter and Mercury and then move the binocular about half of a binocular field to the upper right of them.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (19.7d, 78%) is about a third of the way up in the south-southwestern sky. It is 6.7° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi (α Lib, m = 2.8). Fifteen minutes later, Saturn is nearly 7° above the east-southeastern horizon. As the sky brightens further, use a binocular to see Jupiter nearly 5° in altitude in the east-southeast with Mercury 1.2° to the Giant Planet’s upper right. One hour after sunset, Mars (m = 1.0) is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the sky in the west-southwest, 2.6° to the lower left of Alcyone. When rounded this evening’s gap is the same as what is observed tomorrow evening when Mars passes the star. As midnight approaches, the moon (20.4d, 70%) is very low in the east-southeastern sky.
Read more about the planets during March 2021.
July 26, 2022: The crescent moon makes a spectacular artistic display with Venus before sunrise. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn arc across the sky above Venus. Draco is in the north after twilight ends.Keep reading
July 25, 2022: The thin crescent moon is nearly caught between the Bull’s horns before daybreak. The four bright planets – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – nearly span the sky before daybreak.Keep reading