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.
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.