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.
October 23, 2021: This morning the bright moon is near the Pleiades star cluster. Mercury is making its best morning appearance. In the evening sky, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are easy to spot.
October 22. 2021: Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise. It is putting on its best morning performance of the year. Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.
October 21-November 1, 2021: Brilliant Venus steps through Ophiuchus to the upper left of the star Antares in the southwest after sunset . Afterward, the planet steps farther eastward.
October 21, 2021: The bright moon is low in the west about an hour before sunrise. Mercury is in the east at about the same altitude as Arcturus. Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter shine from the evening sky.
December 18, 2021: This is the anticipated launch date of the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most sophisticated space telescope view the universe.