April 14, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the region. Saturn is dimmer and to the upper right of Jupiter. The Jovian Giant is slowly moving away from the Ringed Wonder after their great conjunction.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:12 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:31 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Two bright planets are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the region, about 12° above the horizon. Saturn, not as bright as Jupiter, is 13.4° to the upper right of the Jovian Giant.
The dim stars of Capricornus make the background for the two largest planets in the solar system.
Jupiter is slowly moving away from Saturn after their historic great conjunction on the winter solstice in 2020.
Use a binocular to see the starry background with the planet. Jupiter is 2.6° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi (δ Cap on the chart) and Mu Capricorni (μ Cap), 0.4° to the star’s upper right.
Tomorrow morning use a spotting scope or a small telescope to see the star appear to intermingle with Jupiter’s largest satellites.
Jupiter is about 420 million miles away while the star is about 90 light years away. In comparison, the star is over 1.2 million times farther away than Jupiter. The distant star and the nearer planet are nearly along the same line of sight.
Saturn is slowly approaching the star Theta Capricorni (θ Cap). This morning the Ringed Wonder is 1.8° to the upper right of the star.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, bright Jupiter is nearly 12° up in the east-southeast. Saturn – over 16° in altitude above the southeastern horizon – is 13.4° to the upper right of the Jovian Giant. Among the dimmer stars, Jupiter is 2.6° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi and 0.4° to the upper right of μ Cap. Saturn is 1.8° to the upper right of θ Cap. The moon is at apogee 252,334.8 miles from Earth at 12:46 p.m. CDT. One hour after sunset, the moon (3.0d, 7%) is nearly 17° up in the west and nearly 7° to the lower left of the Pleiades star cluster. Mars is higher in the sky between the horns of Taurus, 4.4° to the upper left of Elnath and 3.6° to the upper right of ζ Tau.
Read more about the planets during April 2021.
- 2023, December 26: Cold Moon, Venus, Jupiter, SaturnDecember 26, 2023: The Cold Moon is visible during the nighttime hours. Venus shines before sunrise while Jupiter and Saturn are visible after sundown.
- 2023, December 25: Telescope First Light, Bright PlanetsDecember 25, 2023: For sky watchers with new telescopes, here’s what to look at before dawn or after sunset.
- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Heliacal RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.