April 16, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are the morning planets in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the region. Through a spotting telescope or small telescope, the star Mu Capricorni seems to intermingle with Jupiter’s largest moons.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:08 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:33 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Bright Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeast before sunrise. One hour before sunup, bright Jupiter is 12.0° up in the east-southeast. Saturn is 13.6° to the upper right of Saturn and about 17° above the southeast horizon.
Both planets are gently moving eastward compared to the starry background. Saturn is 1.7° to the upper right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap on the chart).
Jupiter is 2.9° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi (δ Cap) and 0.1° to the right of Mu Capricorni (μ Cap). On the scale on the chart above, Mu Capricorni is not shown as it is very close to Jupiter.
Use a low-power eyepiece of a spotting scope or small telescope to see the star seem to mix in with Jupiter’s moons. From North America and South America this morning, the star is near the moons Europa and Io. Other parts of the globe see a slightly different view from what is displayed in the chart above.
The star is not actually near the moons, but it is along the same line of sight, over a million times farther away from us as Jupiter and its moons.
Tomorrow morning, Jupiter is passed the star. Jupiter, its moons, and Mu Capricorni are still in the same low-power field of a spotting scope or telescope.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is 12.0° up in the east-southeast, 2.9° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi. Jupiter is 0.1° to the right of μ Cap. Use a low power telescopic eyepiece to observe the plane of Jupiter’s moons below the star. Europa is to the lower right of the star, while Callisto is less than 0.1° to the lower left of the star. Saturn – 13.6° to the upper right of Jupiter – is nearly 17° up in the southeast. The Ringed Wonder is 1.7° to the upper right of θ Cap. One hour after sunset, the crescent moon (5.0d, 20%) is less than one-half of the way up in the west, 5.6° to the lower right of Mars. The lunar crescent is 5.3° to the lower right of ζ Tau, while Mars is 3.8° to the upper right of the star. With Elnath, the moon is 5.4° to the lower left, while Mars is 5.0° to the star’s upper left. With a wide-field binocular it’s possible to fit the moon, Mars and one of the horns of Taurus in the field of view, but not all four objects simultaneously. The gap between the horns is too large to fit into a binocular field.
Read more about the planets during April 2021.
February 23, 2022: Brilliant Morning Star Venus and Mars are in the south before sunup, while the moon is in the south. The bright stars of winter make a letter in the night sky.Keep reading
February 22, 2022: The moon covers Zubenelgenubi before sunrise. Venus and Mars are in the southeast before sunup. Canis Minor is in the southern sky during early evening hours.Keep reading
February 21, 2022: Venus and Mars dance in the southeastern sky before sunrise. The bright moon is near Spica. During the evening the Dog Star is in the southern sky.Keep reading