April 1, 2021: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. The moon is among the stars of Scorpius. In the evening sky, the lone bright planet Mars is approaching the Bull’s Horns in the western sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:33 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:17 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Jupiter and Saturn continue to climb into the morning sky. Jupiter is now about 8° up in the east-southeast at an hour before sunrise. It is still likely behind buildings or trees. Saturn is dimmer and nearly 12° to the upper right of Jupiter.
The gap between Jupiter and Saturn continues to widen after their close conjunction at the beginning of winter.
The bright moon is farther west of Saturn. It is among the stars of Scorpius. Over 80% illuminated the moon’s brightness makes it difficult to see other stars. It is below Graffias (translated as “crab”). A binocular helps locate the stars as shown on the chart. Notice the contrasting star colors of ω1 Scopii (ω1 Sco on the chart) and ω2 Scorpii ( ω2 Sco).
In the evening sky, Mars is the lone bright planet although its brightness continues to diminish as the Earth – Mars distance widens. Look for it over halfway up in the west as night falls. It is approaching the Bull’s Horns, Elnath and ζ Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart). The planet is now well-past Aldebaran and the Pleiades.
The planet sets about 5 hours after sunset.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Read about Mars during April.
Detailed Note: April 1: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky. Brighter Jupiter (m = −2.1) is nearly 8° up in the east-southeast. Use a binocular to spot Deneb Algiedi (“the kid’s tail,” δ Cap, m = 2.8) 2.0° below the Jovian Giant. Saturn (m = 0.8) is 11.9° of ecliptic longitude to the upper right of Jupiter. The moon (19.0 days after the New Moon phase, 82° illuminated) is 25.0° up in the south-southwest. It is 1.3° to the the star Graffias (“the crab,” β Sco, m = 2.5°). Use a binocular to see the stars nearby. They are difficult to see with the unaided eye because of the moon’s brightness. Notice that Dschubba (δ Sco, m = 2.3) is 1.9° below the lunar orb. Look for two dimmer stars, ω1 Sco (m =3.9) and ω2 Sco (m= 4.2), that are less than a degree to the moon’s upper left. Can you see their contrasting star colors? The sun is in the sky for nearly 12.75 hours. One hour after sunset, Mars (m = 1.6) is over 48° in altitude above the west horizon. It is 6.9° to the lower left of Elnath (“the one butting with horns,” β Tau, m = 1.6).
Read more about the planets during April 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!