March 29, 2021: The first Full moon of Spring shines in the western sky this morning before sunrise, near the star Spica. Farther eastward, Jupiter and Saturn shine from the southeastern sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:38 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:13 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The bright moon is in the west-southwest this morning. It is 8.2° to the upper right of Spica, “the ear of corn,” the brightest star in Virgo.
When a full moon is near Spica this is a celestial marker that spring is here. Now nine mornings after the equinox, the grouping of the moon and the star do not occur on the exact date. Without a written calendar, the positions of celestial objects mark the passing seasons.
On April 12, Spica rises at sunset and appears to move across the sky during the nighttime hours.
This morning one hour before sunrise, two bright planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are in the southeastern sky. Saturn is about 12° above the southeast horizon. Bright Jupiter is lower in the sky, 11.5° to the lower left of Saturn. The Jovian Giant is nearly 7° above the east-southeast horizon.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (16.0d, 99%) is nearly 20° above the west-southwestern horizon, 8.2° to the upper right of Spica (“the ear of corn,” α Vir, m = 1.0). Farther eastward along the ecliptic, Saturn is nearly 12° up in the southeast. Brighter Jupiter – nearly 7° in altitude above the east-southeastern horizon – is 11.5° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder. One hour after sunset, Mars is nearly 50° up in the west-southwest. Among the stars of Taurus, it is 2.8° to the upper left of τ Tau, 3.2° to the right of ι Tau, and 8.5° below Elnath. Two hours after sunset, the moon (16.7d, 97%), less than 10° up in the east, is 7.0° to the lower left of Spica.
Read more about the planets during March 2021.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.
- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.