April 23, 2021: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the region. Saturn is to the Jovian Giant’s upper right.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:58 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:41 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Both planets are brighter than all the stars in the region. Jupiter is much brighter than Saturn.
Saturn is 19.0° up in the southeast, 1.3° to the upper right of the star Theta Capricorni (θ Cap on the chart).
Bright Jupiter is 14.4° to the lower left of Saturn. Your fist – from thumb knuckle to pinky finger – covers about 10° in the sky. The planets are easily seen when your arm is extended and held against the sky between the two worlds.
In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.8° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi (δ Cap), 1.0° to the lower left of Mu Capricorni (μ Cap), and 2.2° to the upper right of Iota Aquarii (ι Aqr).
Use a binocular to track the motion of Jupiter against the three stars and compare it to Saturn’s eastward trek contrasted to Theta Capricorni.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Saturn is 19.0° up in the southeast, 1.3° to the upper right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap). Jupiter is 14.4° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder. In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.8° to the upper left of Dene Algiedi, 1.0° to the lower left of μ Cap and 2.2° to the upper right of ι Aqr. Twenty minutes after sunset, Venus is nearly 3° up in the west-northwest. Mercury (m = −1.8) – less than 2° in altitude – is 1.9° to the lower right of Venus. Find a clear horizon. As the sky darkens further, find Mars 39.0° up in the west, 1.8° to the right of 1 Geminorum (1 Gem, m = 4.2) and 4.1° to the lower right of Propus. Under bright moonlight use a binocular to spot the star cluster M35, 1.9° to the upper left of Mars. Farther eastward, the moon (12.0d, 87%) is nearly 50° up in the southeast. It is 7.5° to the lower right of Denebola (β Leo, m = 2.1).
Read more about the planets during April 2021.
- 2023, December 26: Cold Moon, Venus, Jupiter, SaturnDecember 26, 2023: The Cold Moon is visible during the nighttime hours. Venus shines before sunrise while Jupiter and Saturn are visible after sundown.
- 2023, December 25: Telescope First Light, Bright PlanetsDecember 25, 2023: For sky watchers with new telescopes, here’s what to look at before dawn or after sunset.
- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Heliacal RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.