April 18, 2021: The bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Capricornus is the starry background for this giant planet duo. Daylight is 13 hours, 30 minutes long.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:05 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:35 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The length of daylight has stretched to 13 hours, 30 minutes. Daylight continues to grow 2-3 minutes each day and another 31 minutes by month’s end.
Bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are in the southeast before sunrise. One hour before sunup, Saturn is over 17° in altitude above the southeast horizon. The planet seems to move very slowly compared to the starry background. This morning it is 1.6° to the upper right of the star Theta Capricorni (θ Cap on the chart). Use a binocular to see the starry background with the morning planets.
Bright Jupiter – the brightest “star” in the region – is nearly 14° to the lower left of Saturn. The Jovian Giant rises 2.3 hours before sunrise.
In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.2° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi, “the kid’s tail,” (δ Cap) and 0.2° to the lower left of Mu Capricorni (μ Cap).
During the last three mornings, Mu Capricorni has seemed to intermingle with Jupiter’s moons in a telescope eyepiece. The star is over a million times farther away than Jupiter, but along the same line of sight.
This morning Jupiter and the star are still in the eyepiece of a low-power spotting scope or telescope, although they are near opposite edges.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is nearly 13° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon. It is 3.2° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi and 0.2° to the lower left of μ Cap. Saturn is 13.9° to the upper right of Jupiter and 1.6° to the upper right of θ Cap. One hour after sunset, the moon (7.0d, 38%) is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the west-southwest, among the stars of Gemini, 9.5° to the lower right of Pollux (β Gem, m = 1.2). Use a binocular to spot Wasat (“the middle of the sky,” δ Gem, m = 3.5) 4.8° to the upper left of the crescent and Mebsuta (‘the outstretched paw of the lion,” ε Gem, m =3.0) 4.6° to the moon’s lower right. Mars – nearly 18° to the moon’s lower right – is above the horns of Taurus, 4.3° to the upper right of ζ Tau. Mercury is at superior conjunction at 8:49 p.m. CDT.
Read more about the planets during April 2021.
May 13, 2021: Venus, Mercury, the crescent moon, and Mars are in the western sky after sunset.
May 13, 2021: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are the morning planets in the southeast before sunrise.
May 12, 2021: Thirty minutes after sunset, the razor-thin moon is 1.2° to the left of brilliant Venus. This is the closest grouping of the moon and Venus during this evening appearance of the brilliant planet. Mercury is 9.1° to the upper left of Venus. Mars maintains its eastward march in Gemini. Sirius and Aldebaran are near their heliacal settings, their final appearances in the evening sky for the year.
May 12, 2021: Before sunrise bright Jupiter, in front of Aquarius, is in the southeast before sunrise. Saturn is to the upper right of Jupiter, in Capricornus. In a few mornings, Saturn begins to retrograde.
May 11, 2021: The planet parade continues today. Five planets are on display. Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky before sunrise. After sundown, brilliant Venus, Mercury, and Mars are in the western sky. The moon is at its New phase and at apogee today.