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.
May 22, 2021: Five planets parade across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Evening Star Venus, Mercury and Mars are in the western sky after sunset. A bright moon is in the southeastern sky.
May 21, 2021: Three bright planets are dancing in the western sky after sundown. Evening Star Venus is entering the sky for a months-long residency after its solar conjunction two months ago. Mercury is heading for a conjunction with Venus after its best evening appearance of the year. Mars continues its eastward march in Gemini, but time is running out on its appearance as it approaches brighter evening twilight and a conjunction with Venus.
May 21, 2021: At the weather warms, daylight and twilight lengthen to diminish nighttime hours. As the summer solstice approaches far northern latitudes do not have periods of darkness. From the most northern latitudes, the sun does not set – the Land of the Midnight Sun.
May 20, 2021: Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars continue their planetary dance in the western sky after sunset. Begin looking for brilliant Venus about 30 minutes after sunset. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury and Mars join the ballet.
May 20, 2021: With two bright planets in the southeast before sunrise, the Summer Triangle – Vega, Altair, and Deneb – is high in the south as daylight approaches.