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.
July 6, 2021: In less than a week, brilliant Venus passes Mars in the west-northwestern sky after sunset. This evening the two planets are 3.8° apart. Venus is over 18° to the lower right of the star Regulus.
July 1 – July 7, 2021, the waning crescent appears in the eastern sky. Early in the viewing period, the moon is among the dim stars of Pisces. As the week progresses, the moon wanes and moves farther eastward, appearing near Taurus.
July 5, 2021: Our planet Earth reaches its farthest point in its yearly trek around the sun. Our seasons are not related to Earth’s distance from the sun. Coincidentally, the moon is at its farthest point from Earth today.
July 5, 2021: Venus continues to close in on Mars in the west-northwest after sunset. In a week Venus passes the Red Planet.
July 4, 2021: The Venus – Mars conjunction is eight days away. This evening Venus moves to within 5° of the Red Planet.