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.
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.