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.
November 6, 2021: The midpoint of Autumn occurs today.
November 3, 2021: Before sunrise speedy planet Mercury, the crescent moon, and the star Spica are grouped together. The trio does not appear this close together again until 2033.
October 31, 2021: There is no Halloween Full moon this year, and the phase is not close. The crescent moon is in the morning sky. Mercury is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. The planet pack – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – gleam in the evening sky.
October 29, 2021: Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the sun. It is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn. The crescent moon and Mercury are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!