2021, April 21: Morning Planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Capricornus


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.

Chart Caption – 2021, April 21: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeast before sunrise in front of the starry background of Capricornus.

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.

2021, July 26: Evening Sky, Mars Closes In

July 26, 2021:  Four bright planets are in the evening sky.  Mars closes in on Regulus for their conjunction in three evenings.  Brilliant Evening Star Venus appears to the upper left of the impending Mars – Regulus conjunction.  Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky after sunset.

2021, July 25: Evening Sky, Mars on Final Approach

July 25, 2021:  Four evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, find Mars in the western sky to the lower right of Venus.  As the calendar day ends, look for the moon below bright Jupiter.

2021, July 24: Four Evening Planets, Moon

July 24, 2021: After sunset, Venus and Mars are in the western sky.  A little later during evening hours, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn in the southeast.

2021, July 29: Jupiter – Mars Opposition

July 29, 2021:  Jupiter and Mars are 180° apart along the ecliptic.  Dim Mars sets in the west-northwest as Jupiter rises in the east-southeast.  This event signals that soon both appear in the sky simultaneously.

Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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