April 12, 2021: Spica rises at sunset. It is low in the east-southeast during the early evening hours. Mars is halfway up in the west as it moves between the Bull’s horns.
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.
Spica rises at sunset. One hour later it is 10° above the east-southeast horizon.
The star is the 14th brightest star visible in the night skies of Earth and the 10th brightest visible from mid-northern latitudes. At 250 light years, this star has an actual brightness of nearly 2,300 suns.
Spica is part of Virgo, a rather nondescript constellation that is above the star, while other stars are below the horizon during the early evening hours.
The constellation Corvus the Crow, a trapezoid shape, is to Spica’s upper right early in the evening.
Farther west, Mars is about halfway up in the sky in front of the stars of Taurus. It is nearly between Elnath and Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart), the Bull’s horns.
The Red Planet is 4.0° to the lower left of Elnath and 3.9° to the upper right of Zeta Tauri. It is below a line that connects the stars.
During the next few evenings watch the planet move between the horns.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Read about Mars during April.
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.
April 25, 2021: Mercury passes Evening Star Venus this evening after sunset. Look low in the western sky about 20 minutes after sunset. Mars is marching eastward in Gemini, near the star cluster Messier 35. The bright moon is near Spica.
April 25, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is in front of the stars of Aquarius, while Saturn’s starry background is Capricornus.
April 24, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are low in the west-northwest during evening twilight. The bright moon is in the southeast in Virgo. Mars moves into Gemini as it approaches the star cluster Messier 35.
April 24, 2021: The bright gibbous moon is near a star in Virgo during the early morning. From parts of the Western Hemisphere, the moon covers the star. Before sunrise, bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.
April 23, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are found very low in the west-northwest after sunset. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the early evening. Mars is moving toward the star cluster Messier 35.