April 22, 2021: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter approaches the Capricornus Aquarius border, while Saturn is near the star Theta Capricorni.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:59 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:40 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The sun is rising before 6 a.m. CDT in Chicago. Because it is far east in the time zone, sunrise occurs earlier than places farther west in the zone. In Omaha, Nebraska, the sun rises over 35 minutes later than Chicago’s sunrise time this morning.
The bright morning planets are in the southeast before sunrise.
Bright Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the region. One hour before sunrise, the planet is 14.0° above the east-southeast horizon. Saturn is 14.3° to the upper right of the Jovian Giant.
In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.7° to the upper right of Deneb Algiedi (δ Cap on the chart), 0.9° to the lower left of Mu Capricorni (μ Cap), and 2.3° to the upper right of Iota Aquarii (ι Aqr). In three mornings, the planet moves into Aquarius.
Saturn is slowly moving toward Theta Capricorni (θ Cap). The gap this morning is 2.3°. The Ringed Wonder is to the upper right of the star.
Use a binocular to spot the stars with the planets.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is 14.0° above the east-southeast horizon. Use a binocular to find the nearby background stars. Jupiter is 3.7° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi, 0.9° to the lower left of μ Cap, and 2.3° to the upper right of ι Aqr. The gap between Jupiter and Saturn continues to widen as Jupiter moves faster eastward than the Ringed Wonder. This morning Saturn – over 18° up in the southeast – is 14.3° to the upper right of Jupiter. Saturn is 1.3° to the upper right of θ Cap. Twenty minutes after sunset, Venus is over 2° up in the west-northwest. Have you spotted it? As the sky darkens further, the moon (11.0d, 78%) is about two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the south-southeast horizon. It is 8.5° to the lower left of Regulus. Use a binocular to spot the star Rho Leonis (ρ Leo, m = 3.8), 4.7° to the lower right of the moon. Mars is farther westward, less than 40° above the west horizon, and 4.6° to the lower right of Propus. Use a binocular to spot the Red Planet, 2.5° to the lower right of the star cluster M35.
Read more about the planets during April 2021.
May 28, 2021: This evening Mercury passes brilliant Venus for the second of three conjunctions during this evening apparition of the second planet from the sun. Use a binocular about 45 minutes after sunset to see the speedy planet 0.4° to the lower left of Venus. This is the closest visible conjunction until 2033.
May 24, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. In the evening sky, brilliant Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars line up along the solar system’s plane. The bright moon is in the southeast near Zubenelgenubi, “the southern claw.”
May 23, 2021: Five bright planets parade across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn are visible before sunrise in the southeastern sky. The star Fomalhaut is becoming visible below bright Jupiter and near the horizon. After sundown, Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars are in the western sky. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the nighttime hours.
May 22, 2021: Five planets parade across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Evening Star Venus, Mercury and Mars are in the western sky after sunset. A bright moon is in the southeastern sky.
May 21, 2021: Three bright planets are dancing in the western sky after sundown. Evening Star Venus is entering the sky for a months-long residency after its solar conjunction two months ago. Mercury is heading for a conjunction with Venus after its best evening appearance of the year. Mars continues its eastward march in Gemini, but time is running out on its appearance as it approaches brighter evening twilight and a conjunction with Venus.