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.
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.