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.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.
December 30, 2021: The morning crescent moon seems to be captured in the Scorpion’s pincers to the upper right of Mars. Four Evening Planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the southwest after sundown.
December 28, 2021: The Great Andromeda Galaxy is nearly overhead at the end of the evening twilight.
December 29, 2021: The morning crescent moon approaches Scorpius and Mars. In the evening sky, four evening planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are lined up in the southwest. Venus is rapidly leaving the evening sky.