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2021, April 1: Morning Planets & Moon, Mars in Taurus

Jupiter Close up from Hubble Space Telescope

This Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot, and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years. The colors, and their changes, provide important clues to ongoing processes in Jupiter's atmosphere.

April 1, 2012: Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast about an hour before sunrise.

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.

Morning Sky

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.

April 1, 2021: Before sunrise, use a binocular to see the gibbous moon and the starfield Scorpius. Notice the contrasting star colors.

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).

Evening Sky

April 1, 2021: One hour after sunset, Mars is in the western sky and approaching the Bull’s Horns.

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.

2021, October 25:  Caught Between the Horns

October 25, 2021: This morning the bright gibbous moon seems to be caught between the horns of Taurus.  Mercury is making its best morning appearance.  The planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky.

2021, October 24: Saturn Inches Toward Jupiter

October 24, 2021:  Saturn is at its closest to Jupiter as the Jovian Giant picks up eastward speed.  The morning moon and Mercury are visible before sunrise.  Brilliant Evening Star Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are in the sky after sunset.

2021, October 23: Morning Moon Near Pleiades

October 23, 2021:  This morning the bright moon is near the Pleiades star cluster.  Mercury is making its best morning appearance.  In the evening sky, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are easy to spot.

2021, October 22, Mercury’s Morning Best, Arcturus

October 22. 2021:  Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise.  It is putting on its best morning performance of the year.  Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.

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