April 24, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are low in the west-northwest during evening twilight. The bright moon is in the southeast in Virgo. Mars moves into Gemini as it approaches the star cluster Messier 35.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:56 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:42 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus and Mercury are low in the west-northwest after sunset. Find a clear, natural horizon. Use a binocular to first locate brilliant Venus about 3° above the horizon. Bright Mercury is 1.3° to the lower right of Venus.
Can you see them without the binocular’s assistance?
Speedy Mercury is slightly closer and to the upper right of Venus tomorrow evening. Mercury quickly moves higher into the sky. It can be seen in a darker sky during the next few weeks, although its brightness dims.
Read more about Venus in our summary document.
The very bright moon, 94% illuminated, is in the southeast as the sky darkens. One hour after sunset, the lunar orb is 4.1° above the star Porrima in Virgo. (In mythology, Porrima was a Roman goddess of prophecy and childbirth.)
On a wider scale, the moon is at about the same altitude as topaz Arcturus, “the bear-guard.” The star is about 30° to the left of the moon. Spica, “the ear of corn,” is less than 20° to the lower left of the gibbous moon.
Mars is in the west among the stars of Gemini, 3.6° to the lower right of Propus, “the projecting foot” (η Gem on the chart). Castor and Pollux mark the heads of the celestial Twins.
Mars is approaching the star cluster M35. The concentration resembles the Pleiades star cluster, but it is nearly 10 times farther away. From this distance our eyes see the stellar bunch as a cloudy blotch of light.
A binocular reveals the cluster’s brightest stars, although the moon’s brightness makes it difficult to locate the collection of stars without the binocular’s assistance. The chart shows a binocular view of the cluster, Mars, and Propus.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Read about Mars during April.
Detailed Note: During the early morning hours, the moon is near Nu Virginis (ν Vir, m = 4.0). At about 2:30 a.m. CDT, the moon is 0.3° to the lower left of the star. From southern Florida, across the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and Central America, and throughout the American West, the moon blocks the star. See http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/0424zc1702.htm for details for your location. One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is nearly 15° above the east-southeast horizon. It is 4.0° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi, 1.2° to the lower left of μ Cap, and 2.1° to the upper right of ι Aqr. Saturn, not as bright as Jupiter, is 14.5° to the upper right of Jupiter. The Ringed Wonder is 1.3° to the upper right of θ Cap. Twenty minutes after sunset, Venus is slowly climbing into the evening sky. It is less than 3° up in the west-northwest. Mercury (m = −1.7) is 1.3° to the lower right of Venus. One hour after sunset, Mars – in Gemini – is 1.6° to the right of 1 Gem and 3.6° to the lower right of Propus. With a bright sky from the moon, use a binocular to view the star cluster M35, 1.4° to the upper left of Mars. The bright moon (13.0d, 94%) is less than 40° up in the southeast. It is 4.1° above Porrima (γ Vir, m = 3.4). Arcturus (α Boo, m = −0.1) has nearly the same altitude as the lunar orb. The star is over 30° to the left of the star. Spica (α Vir, m = 1.0) is nearly 19° to the lower left the moon.
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.