March 31, 2021: The bright gibbous moon is in the southwestern sky before sunrise, near a claw of the scorpion. The bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are low in the southeastern sky, in front of the stars of Capricornus. Jupiter is near the tail.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:35 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:15 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
This morning, the bright gibbous moon is less than one-third of the way up in the sky above the southwest horizon. It is 2.6° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi, “the southern claw” of the scorpion.
Bright Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky, in front of the stars of Capricornus. Saturn is 12° up in the southeast. Jupiter continues to slowly open a gap with the Ringed Wonder. This morning it is 11.7° to the lower left of Saturn. The Jovian Giant is over 7° above the east-southeast horizon.
Use a binocular to spot the starry background with the planets. Saturn is 2.8° to the upper right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap on the chart.) Jupiter is 2.1° to the upper left of Nashira with the interesting meaning “the lucky star of the verdant fields at the end of summer.” Jupiter is 2.0° above Deneb Algiedi, “the kid’s tail.” Notice that Jupiter and the stars make a triangle.
A few stars have the name “Deneb” in them. In Cygnus, Deneb is the “hen’s tail.” Denebola (Leo) is the “tail of the lion.” Deneb Kaitos (Cetus) is “the southern branch of the sea monster’s tail.”
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the bright gibbous moon (18.0d, 90%) is nearly 25° up in the southwest, 2.6° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi. Farther eastward, Saturn is over 12° above the southeastern horizon. Jupiter – over 7° in altitude above the east-southeastern horizon – is 11.7° of ecliptic longitude east of Saturn. Use a binocular to see the planets against the starry background. Saturn is 2.8° to the upper right of θ Cap, while Jupiter is 5.2° to the lower left of ι Cap. You may have already spotted Nashira (“the lucky star of the verdant fields at the end of summer,” γ Cap, m = 3.6) and Deneb Algiedi (“the kid’s tail, δ Cap, m = 2.8) below Jupiter. The planet and the stars make a nice triangle. Jupiter is 2.1° to the upper left of Nashira and 2.0° above Deneb Algedi. Arcturus (“the bear-guard,” α Boo, m = −0.1) rises at sunset. One hour after sunset, Mars is less than 50° up in the west, in Taurus above the “V” made by Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. The planet moved eastward 17.7° during the month. Use a binocular to spot it 4.1° to the upper left of τ Tau, 2.7° to the upper right of ι Tau, and 7.4° below Elnath. As midnight approaches, the bright moon (18.8d, 83%) is less than 5° up in the east-southeast, 13.0° below Zubeneschamali (“the northern claw,” β Lib, m = 2.6).
Read more about the planets during March 2021.
July 26, 2021: Four bright planets are in the evening sky. Mars closes in on Regulus for their conjunction in three evenings. Brilliant Evening Star Venus appears to the upper left of the impending Mars – Regulus conjunction. Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky after sunset.
July 25, 2021: Four evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, find Mars in the western sky to the lower right of Venus. As the calendar day ends, look for the moon below bright Jupiter.
July 24, 2021: After sunset, Venus and Mars are in the western sky. A little later during evening hours, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn in the southeast.
July 23, 2021: Four bright planets are visible during evening hours. Venus and Mars are in the western sky after sunset. A little later, the moon is near Saturn and Jupiter in the southeastern sky.
July 29, 2021: Jupiter and Mars are 180° apart along the ecliptic. Dim Mars sets in the west-northwest as Jupiter rises in the east-southeast. This event signals that soon both appear in the sky simultaneously.