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.
July 26, 2021: Four bright planets are in the evening sky. Mars closes in on Regulus for their conjunction in three evenings. Brilliant Evening Star Venus appears to the upper left of the impending Mars – Regulus conjunction. Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky after sunset.
July 25, 2021: Four evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, find Mars in the western sky to the lower right of Venus. As the calendar day ends, look for the moon below bright Jupiter.
July 24, 2021: After sunset, Venus and Mars are in the western sky. A little later during evening hours, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn in the southeast.
July 23, 2021: Four bright planets are visible during evening hours. Venus and Mars are in the western sky after sunset. A little later, the moon is near Saturn and Jupiter in the southeastern sky.
July 29, 2021: Jupiter and Mars are 180° apart along the ecliptic. Dim Mars sets in the west-northwest as Jupiter rises in the east-southeast. This event signals that soon both appear in the sky simultaneously.