April 12, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are morning planets. Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the southeast before sunrise. Saturn is to Jupiter’s upper right. Use a binocular to spot the dim stars.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:15 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:29 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Before sunrise, Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the southeast. One hour before sunup, it is nearly 11° above the horizon. Saturn is dimmer and 13.1° to the upper right of Jupiter.
Make a fist and hold it up to the sky at arm’s length. The distance across your fist from thumb to pinky finger is approximately 10°. Your fist will fit between the two planets when held against the sky.
Use a binocular to note the planets’ places compared to the starry background. Saturn is to the upper right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap in the chart).
Jupiter is moving eastward compared to three stars, Deneb Algiedi (δ Cap), Mu Capricorni (μ Cap), and Iota Aquarii (ι Aqr). In a few mornings Jupiter’s moons will seem to mix with Mu Capricorni.
Find your spotting scope or small telescope to watch the planet and its moons interplay with the star.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is nearly 11° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon. Dimmer Saturn is 13.1° to the upper right of the Jovian Giant. Among the stars of Capricornus, Jupiter is 2.4° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi and 0.7° to the upper right of Mu Capricorni (μ Cap, m = 5.1). Saturn is 1.9° to the upper right of θ Cap. Use a binocular to spot the dimmer stars. Spica (α Vir, m = 1.0) rises at sunset. One hour later, find it about 10° up in the east-southeast. Farther westward, Mars is less than halfway up in the sky in the west in front of the stars of Taurus. It is nearly between the horns of the Bull. The planet is 4.0° to the lower left of Elnath and 3.9° to the upper right of ζ Tau.
Read more about the planets during April 2021.
August 3, 2021: Four planets appear in the evening sky. Brilliant Evening Star Venus and dim Mars are in the west after sunset. A little later during the evening, Saturn and Jupiter are easily visible in the southeast.
August 2, 2021: Saturn is at opposition with the sun. Earth is between the sun and the planet.
August 1 – 6, 2021: The morning moon wanes toward its New moon phase in the eastern sky. It passes the bright stars that are prominent in the evening sky during the winter season in the northern hemisphere. The stars have been making their first appearances in the morning sky during summer. At this hour, Procyon and bright Sirius are the last stellar duo to appear.
August 6, 2021: In the northern hemisphere, summer’s midpoint occurs today at 6:27 p.m. CDT.
July 31, 2021: The slightly gibbous moon, nearing its Last Quarter phase, is in the southeast as morning twilight begins. It is near the planet Uranus, easily within reach of a binocular. Mira, a variable star, reaches its brightest next month.