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2021, April 18: Jupiter, Saturn, Morning Planets

Jupiter and Saturn, December 10, 2020

2020, December 10: In the southwest after sunset, bright Jupiter is 1.0° to the lower right of Saturn.

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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.

Chart Caption – 2021, April 18: The morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are in the southeast before sunrise, in front of the stars of Capricornus.

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.

2021, December 28:  Venus Slips, Mercury Hops

December 28, 2021:  Brilliant Venus is quickly slipping from the evening sky.  Mercury appears beneath Venus after sunset.  This duo is joined by Jupiter and Saturn.  In the morning, Mars is near Antares and the moon near Spica.

2021, December 27:  Mars – Antares Conjunction

December 27, 2021:  The Red Planet Mars passes Antares this morning before sunrise.  At the same hour, the moon is near Spica.  The three bright planets – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the evening sky.

2021, December 21:  Winter Solstice

December 21, 2021:  The winter solstice occurs at 9:59 a.m. CST.  Mars is in the morning sky along with a bright moon.  The planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – is in the southwestern sky after sunset.

2021, December 19-21:  Gemini Moon

December 19, 20, and 21, 2021:  The bright moon leading up to the winter solstice appears in the western sky before sunrise in front of Gemini.

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