March 8, 2021: The crescent moon begins to approach the morning planets for their monthly grouping. This morning Saturn is about 20° to the lower left of lunar slice. Jupiter and Mercury rise into view during bright morning twilight.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:14 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:50 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
This morning the crescent moon nears the planet Saturn. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, the lunar crescent, 24% illuminated, is low in the southeast. It is in eastern Sagittarius, 4.1° to the left of Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr on the chart).
Saturn is over 20° to the lower left of the moon.
As the sky brightens, Jupiter and Mercury rise into view. At this later time, a binocular is needed to see the morning planet trio.
At 30 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter is nearly 6° up in the east-southeast. A cloud-free, unobstructed horizon is needed to see it. Mercury is lower than Jupiter, 2.6° to the Jovian Giant’s lower left.
Saturn is outside the Jupiter – Mercury binocular field. The Ringed Wonder is 9.0° to the upper right of Jupiter. In the binocular field of view, place Jupiter to the lower left quadrant of the view, then move the binocular slightly to the upper right. Saturn will appear in the view.
Jupiter is slowly stepping away from Saturn after their great conjunction on the winter solstice.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (24.6d, 24%) is over 10° above the southeast horizon. The lunar slice is 4.1° to the left of Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr, m =3.3), at the bottom of the Teapot’s handle. At this hour Saturn is over 5° up in the east-southeast. As the sky brightens, Jupiter and Mercury follow behind. Jupiter is 9.0° to the lower left of Saturn. As twilight progresses can you see the two in the sky together without optical aid? By 30 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter is nearly 6° up in the east-southeast with Mercury 2.6° to its lower left. One hour after sunset. Mars, high in the west-southwestern sky – is well-past the Pleiades, 3.6° to the upper left of Alcyone. The planet is below a line from Alcyone to Aldebaran, 10.0° to the lower right of the constellation’s brightest star. Among the dimmer stars, use a binocular to spot 37 Tau 0.9° to the upper left of Mars.
Read more about the planets during March 2021.
January 3, 2022: The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus. As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest. Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.
December 30, 2021: The morning crescent moon seems to be captured in the Scorpion’s pincers to the upper right of Mars. Four Evening Planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the southwest after sundown.
December 28, 2021: The Great Andromeda Galaxy is nearly overhead at the end of the evening twilight.