March 5, 2021: About an hour before sunrise, find the slightly gibbous moon to the upper right of the star Antares in the southern sky. The morning triple dip of planets – Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn – is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. Mercury passes Jupiter this morning.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:19 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:46 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
This morning, the slightly gibbous moon is in the southern sky during morning twilight. (The moon reaches its Last Quarter phase at 7:30 p.m. CST this evening.) The moon is 5.0° to the upper right of Antares (“the rival of Mars”), the brightest star in Scorpius. Note that the lunar orb is 4.2° to the lower left of Graffias (“the crab”). Use a binocular to see the starfield behind the moon.
Three planets are visible during bright twilight. The brightest is Jupiter. Thirty minutes before sunrise use a binocular to find it about 5° in altitude in the east-southeast. Mercury passes the Jovian Giant this morning. This speedy planet is 0.3° to the upper left of Jupiter.
Saturn is 8.6° to the upper right of Jupiter, more than a binocular field away. To find Saturn, put Jupiter at the lower left of the field, then move the binocular slightly to the upper right. Saturn will appear in the view.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (21.7d, 57%) is 26° up in the south, 5.0° to the upper right of Antares (α Sco, m = 1.0) and 4.2° to the lower left of Graffias (β Sco, m = 2.5). Use a binocular to see the starfield behind the moon. Fifteen minutes later, Saturn is nearly 7° up in the east-southeast. Jupiter is 8.6° of ecliptic longitude east of Saturn. With a clear horizon, you might find Jupiter very low in the sky. Thirty minutes before sunrise, use a binocular to locate Jupiter about 5° up in the east-southeast, with Mercury 0.3° to its upper left. One hour after sunset, Mars is nearly 60° up in the west-southwest. It is 2.8° to the left of Alcyone. With a binocular spot 37 Tauri (37 Tau, m = 4.3), 2.6° to the upper left of Mars. The moon is at its Last Quarter phase at 7:30 p.m. CST.
Read more about the planets during March 2021.
April 25, 2021: Mercury passes Evening Star Venus this evening after sunset. Look low in the western sky about 20 minutes after sunset. Mars is marching eastward in Gemini, near the star cluster Messier 35. The bright moon is near Spica.
April 25, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is in front of the stars of Aquarius, while Saturn’s starry background is Capricornus.
April 24, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are low in the west-northwest during evening twilight. The bright moon is in the southeast in Virgo. Mars moves into Gemini as it approaches the star cluster Messier 35.
April 24, 2021: The bright gibbous moon is near a star in Virgo during the early morning. From parts of the Western Hemisphere, the moon covers the star. Before sunrise, bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.
April 23, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are found very low in the west-northwest after sunset. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the early evening. Mars is moving toward the star cluster Messier 35.