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.
November 6, 2021: The midpoint of Autumn occurs today.
November 3, 2021: Before sunrise speedy planet Mercury, the crescent moon, and the star Spica are grouped together. The trio does not appear this close together again until 2033.
October 31, 2021: There is no Halloween Full moon this year, and the phase is not close. The crescent moon is in the morning sky. Mercury is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. The planet pack – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – gleam in the evening sky.
October 29, 2021: Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the sun. It is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn. The crescent moon and Mercury are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!