April 15, 2021: The crescent moon appears near the “V” of Taurus this evening, while Mars is above the Bull’s horns. Venus is nearing its first appearance in the western evening sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:10 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:32 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus is less than a week from making its first appearance in the western evening sky after sunset. This evening the planet is only 5° from the sun, setting only 24 minutes after sunset.
One hour after sunset, the crescent moon, 13% illuminated, is less than one-third of the way up in the sky above the west horizon. It is to the upper right of the “V” of Taurus made by Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster.
The lunar slice is 5.1° to the upper right of Aldebaran and 2.0° to the upper right of Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau on the chart). Through a wide-angle binocular, the lunar crescent and the “V” fit into the same field. The brightness from the thin lunar crescent does not overwhelm the view.
Notice the earthshine on the moon’s night portion that is reflected from Earth’s features. A few seconds of time exposure from a tripod-mounted camera will catch the lunar day and night.
Mars is higher in the sky, above the Bull’s horns, Elnath and Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau). The Red Planet is 4.7° to the upper left of Elnath and 3.6° to the upper left of Zeta Tauri. Tomorrow evening, the moon appears near Mars.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Read about Mars during April.
Detailed Note: April 15: One hour before sunrise, Saturn is nearly 17° above the southeast horizon and 1.7° to the upper right of θ Cap. Bright Jupiter is 13.5° of ecliptic longitude east of Saturn and to the Ring Wonder’s lower left in the sky. The Jovian Giant is nearly 12° above the east-southeast horizon. In the starfield, Jupiter is 2.8° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi and 0.2° to the upper right of μ Cap. In a low power telescopic eyepiece, notice that the star nearly lines up with the morning string of Jupiter’s moons. Callisto is nearly midway from the planet to the star. Venus was at superior conjunction three weeks ago, but it has not yet made its first naked-eye appearance. This evening the planet’s elongation is 5°, nearing its first evening appearance without optical aid. One hour after sunset, the moon (4.0d, 13%) is less than one-third of the way up in the west. It is a nice moon for photographing earthshine. The lunar slice is above a line from Aldebaran (α Tau, m = 0.8) that extends through Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau, m = 3.5). The crescent is 5.1° to the upper right of Aldebaran and 2.0° to the upper right of ε Tau. Mars is to the upper left of the moon above the horns of Taurus. The Red Planet is 4.7° 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.