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.
November 6, 2021: The midpoint of Autumn occurs today.
November 3, 2021: Before sunrise speedy planet Mercury, the crescent moon, and the star Spica are grouped together. The trio does not appear this close together again until 2033.
October 31, 2021: There is no Halloween Full moon this year, and the phase is not close. The crescent moon is in the morning sky. Mercury is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. The planet pack – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – gleam in the evening sky.
October 29, 2021: Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the sun. It is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn. The crescent moon and Mercury are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!