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.
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.