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.
November 7, 2021: During the early evening Venus and the moon group together in the southwest.
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.