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.
July 29, 2021: In a challenging-to-see conjunction, Mars passes 0.6° to the upper right of the star Regulus.
July 29, 2021: The Jupiter – Mars opposition occurs this evening. The planets are 180° apart as viewed from our planet. Mars is setting as Jupiter rises.
July 27, 2021: Evening Star Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are in the evening sky. Mars is nearing its conjunction with Regulus in two evenings.
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.