April 10, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are the bright stars in the southeast before sunrise. Use a binocular to note their eastward movement compared to the background stars.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:18 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:27 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
During the next three weeks the length of daylight is increasing quickly to 14 hours by month’s end. Just from yesterday, daylight increased 4 minutes.
Bright Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is the brightest “star” in this part of the sky. Saturn is nearly 13° to the upper right of Jupiter.
Use a binocular to make observations each clear morning to note the track of the planets compared to their starry background. Both planets are moving eastward in front of the stars of Capricornus, although Jupiter is nearing the Capricornus – Aquarius border.
Use the chart above to identify the stars in the background. Saturn is approaching Theta Capricorni (θ Cap on the chart). Jupiter is passing Deneb Algiedi (δ Cap). Two other stars – Mu Capricorni (μ Cap) and Iota Aquarii (ι Aqr) – are markers to note Jupiter’s eastward trek.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky. Both are slowly trekking eastward in front of the stars of Capricornus. Jupiter, over 10° up in the east-southeast, is 2.0° to the upper left of Deneb Algedi. Saturn, 12.9° to the upper right of Jupiter, is over 15° in altitude in the southeast. Among the stars, the Ringed Wonder is 2.0° to the upper right of θ Cap. In the evening sky, about an hour after sunset, Mars is about halfway up in the west, marching eastward in Taurus near the horns of the Bull. The Red Planet is 3.9° to the lower left of Elnath and 4.4° to the lower right of ζ Tau.
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.