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.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.
- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.