April 21, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are the bright morning planets in the southeast before sunrise. The stars are in front of the backdrop of Capricornus. The constellation looks like an oversized boomerang or stealth fighter.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:01 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:39 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Bright Jupiter and Saturn shine from the southeastern sky before sunrise. Saturn is over 18° above the horizon. It continues its eastward trek in Capricornus, 1.4° to the upper right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap in the chart). Use a binocular to see the stars with this giant planet duo.
Bright Jupiter is over 14° to the lower left of Saturn. It is the brightest “star” in the region. In the starfield, it is 3.6° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi (δ Cap), 0.7° to the lower left of Mu Capricorni (μ Cap), and 2.5° to the upper right of ι Aqr.
Capricornus represents a celestial mutant, part fish and part goat. It is sometimes referred to as the “Sea goat.”
The constellations is part of a set of three constellations associated with water, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces, that form a backdrop for the apparent motions of the sun, moon, and planets.
The pattern is made of dimmer stars, that make a distinct shape that could be an oversized boomerang or stealth airplane.
The four brightest stars and the meanings of their name:
- Algiedi – “the kid”
- Dabih – “the lucky star of the sacrifice or slaughterer”
- Nashira – “the lucky star of the verdant fields at the end of summer”
- Deneb Algiedi – “the kid’s tail.”
The meanings of the star names are from 1944 article by George Davis, Jr.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Saturn is over 18° above the southeast horizon and 1.4° to the upper right of θ Cap. Jupiter – 14.2° to the lower left of Saturn – is nearly 14° up in the east-southeast. In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.6° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi, 0.7° to the lower left of μ Cap, and 2.5° to the upper right of ι Aqr. Use a binocular to note the changing position of Jupiter compared to the sidereal background. Twenty minutes after sunset, Venus is over 2° above the west-northwest horizon. In a darker sky forty minutes later, the moon (10.0d, 68%) is over two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the southern horizon. It is 7.5° to the right of Algieba (“the forehead,” γ Leo, m = 2.0) and 7.6° to the upper right of Regulus. In the west about 40° up in the sky, Mars is 3.1° to the lower right of the star cluster M35 and 5.1° to the lower right of Propus (“the projecting foot,” η Gem, m = 3.3). This trio of celestial treasures and other nearby background stars easily fit into the view of wide-field binocular.
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.