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.
October 23, 2021: This morning the bright moon is near the Pleiades star cluster. Mercury is making its best morning appearance. In the evening sky, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are easy to spot.
October 22. 2021: Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise. It is putting on its best morning performance of the year. Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.
October 21-November 1, 2021: Brilliant Venus steps through Ophiuchus to the upper left of the star Antares in the southwest after sunset . Afterward, the planet steps farther eastward.
October 21, 2021: The bright moon is low in the west about an hour before sunrise. Mercury is in the east at about the same altitude as Arcturus. Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter shine from the evening sky.
December 18, 2021: This is the anticipated launch date of the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most sophisticated space telescope view the universe.