April 8, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the eastern sky before sunrise. As the sky brightens for the approaching sunrise, the crescent moon appears low in the east-southeast.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:21 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:24 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Before sunrise, Bright Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeast. Jupiter is slowly moving away from Saturn after their great conjunction on the day of the winter solstice in 2020. The gap between the planets is 12.7°.
Watch the planets move compared to the starfield by making observations each clear morning. Use a binocular to spot Deneb Algiedi (δ Cap on the chart), 2.1° to the lower right of Jupiter. Saturn is 2.2° to the upper right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap).
As the sky brightens, the crescent moon rises into view. By 30 minutes before sunrise, the lunar slice is about 5° above the east-southeast horizon. Try to locate Jupiter without a binocular. The Jovian Giant is over 14° to the upper right of the moon.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is nearly 10° above the east-southeast horizon. Saturn is 12.7° to the upper right of the Jovian Giant. In the starfield, Jupiter is 2.1° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi, while Saturn is 2.2° to the upper right of θ Cap. During bright twilight, 30 minutes later, the crescent moon (26.2d, 13%) is nearly 5° up in the east-southeast, over 14° to the lower left of Jupiter. Use a binocular to find them in bright twilight. In the evening one hour after sunset, Mars – the lone bright planet in the evening sky – is moving between the horns of Taurus. The Red Planet – about halfway up in the west – is 4.2° to the lower left of Elnath (Northern Horn) and 5.2° to the lower right of Zeta Tauri (Southern Horn, ζ Tau, m = 3.0).
Read more about the planets during April 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.