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.
April 25, 2021: Mercury passes Evening Star Venus this evening after sunset. Look low in the western sky about 20 minutes after sunset. Mars is marching eastward in Gemini, near the star cluster Messier 35. The bright moon is near Spica.
April 25, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is in front of the stars of Aquarius, while Saturn’s starry background is Capricornus.
April 24, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are low in the west-northwest during evening twilight. The bright moon is in the southeast in Virgo. Mars moves into Gemini as it approaches the star cluster Messier 35.
April 24, 2021: The bright gibbous moon is near a star in Virgo during the early morning. From parts of the Western Hemisphere, the moon covers the star. Before sunrise, bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.
April 23, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are found very low in the west-northwest after sunset. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the early evening. Mars is moving toward the star cluster Messier 35.