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 26, 2021: Mercury is at its greatest morning appearance for the year. Look low in the east-southeast before sunrise.
October 25, 2021: This morning the bright gibbous moon seems to be caught between the horns of Taurus. Mercury is making its best morning appearance. The planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky.
October 24, 2021: Saturn is at its closest to Jupiter as the Jovian Giant picks up eastward speed. The morning moon and Mercury are visible before sunrise. Brilliant Evening Star Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are in the sky after sunset.
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.