April 14, 2021: The picturesque lunar crescent is to the lower left of the Pleiades star cluster after sunset. Earthshine can be seen on the moon’s night portion. Mars is higher in the sky between the Bull’s horns.
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.
The crescent moon is higher in the sky than last night. One hour after sunset, the thin moon is nearly 17° up in the west and about 7° to the lower left of the Pleiades star cluster.
Use a binocular to view earthshine on the moon. Reflected sunlight from Earth’s oceans, land masses, and clouds gently illuminate the night portion of the moon. This phase is picturesque and easily photographed with a tripod-mounted camera with an exposure that lasts a few seconds.
In addition, use the binocular to view the dozen or so stars in the Pleiades star cluster. (Large telescopes reveal a few hundred stars in the cluster.) Then turn it toward the “V” of Taurus that is made by Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster.
Mars is higher in the sky, between the horns of Taurus, Elnath and Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart). The Red Planet is 4.4° to the upper left of Elnath and 3.6° to the upper right of Zeta Tauri.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Read about Mars during April.
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 28, 2021: This evening Mercury passes brilliant Venus for the second of three conjunctions during this evening apparition of the second planet from the sun. Use a binocular about 45 minutes after sunset to see the speedy planet 0.4° to the lower left of Venus. This is the closest visible conjunction until 2033.
May 24, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. In the evening sky, brilliant Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars line up along the solar system’s plane. The bright moon is in the southeast near Zubenelgenubi, “the southern claw.”
May 23, 2021: Five bright planets parade across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn are visible before sunrise in the southeastern sky. The star Fomalhaut is becoming visible below bright Jupiter and near the horizon. After sundown, Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars are in the western sky. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the nighttime hours.
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.