2021, April 26: Evening Star Venus, Mercury, Mars, Pink Moon

April 26, 2021:  The perigee full moon (supermoon), known as the Pink Moon, occurs this evening.  Evening star Venus and Mercury are above the west-northwest horizon after sunset. Use a binocular to see Mars closest to the star cluster Messier 35.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:54 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:44 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

2021, April 26: Brilliant Venus and bright Mercury are visible in the west-northwest during bright evening twilight.
Chart Caption – 2021, April 26: Brilliant Venus and bright Mercury are visible in the west-northwest during bright evening twilight.

Venus and Mercury are low in the west-northwest after sunset.  Twenty minutes after sunset, Venus is over 3° up in the sky.  Bright Mercury is 1.6° to the upper right of Venus.  The speedy planet is brighter than Sirius, although Mercury dims each evening.  Find them with a binocular.  Can you see them without optical aid?

Read more about Venus in our summary document.

2021, April 26: The bright moon is to the lower left of Spica this evening.
Chart Caption – 2021, April 26: The bright moon is to the lower left of Spica this evening.

The very bright moon, nearing the official full phase later this evening, is over 12° above the east-southeast horizon.  It is over 13° to the lower left of Spica.

2021, April 26: Mars is less than halfway up in the west about an hour after sunset in the feet of Gemini.
Chart Caption – 2021, April 26: Mars is less than halfway up in the west about an hour after sunset in the feet of Gemini.

An hour after sunset, Mars is less than 40° up in the west in Gemini.  The Red Planet is 2.8° to the right of Propus, “the projecting foot,” (η Gem on the chart) and 4.1° to the lower right of Tejat Posterior (μ Gem).

2021, April 26: Through a binocular, Mars is closest to the star cluster M35 this evening.
Chart Caption – 2021, April 26: Through a binocular, Mars is closest to the star cluster M35 this evening.

This evening Mars passes the star cluster Messier 35 (M35 on the chart).  The planet is 0.6° to the upper right of the cluster. Use a binocular to see the planet, the cluster and the background stars. The moon’s light makes this observation challenging, as it tends to wash away the dimmer celestial sights.

The moon reaches its Full (Pink Moon) phase at 10:32 p.m. CDT. This perigee full moon is sometimes referred to as a “supermoon,” although its larger size is difficult to spot without measuring instruments.  Get outside for an evening walk.  The full moon provides ample light to navigate sidewalks and paths.

Here’s more about Mars during 2021.

Read about Mars during April.

Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (14.3d, 99%) is 5.0° above Spica.  The lunar orb is 9.6° up in the west-southwest.  Farther eastward, Jupiter is 15.4° up in the southeast.  Use a binocular to spot the starfield.  The Jovian Giant is 4.2° to the left of Deneb Algiedi,1.5° to the lower left of μ Cap, and 1.9° to the upper right of ι Cap.  The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 14.7°.  Saturn is to the upper right of Jupiter and 1.2° to the upper right of θ Cap.  Venus continues to crawl into the evening sky.  Find it over 3° above the west-northwest horizon at 20 minutes after sunset.  Bright Mercury (m = −1.5) is 1.6° to the upper right of Venus. Can you see them without a binocular?  By an hour after sunset, Mars is less than 40° in altitude above the west horizon.  The planet is in Gemini, 1.8° to the upper right of 1 Gem and 2.8° to the right of Propus.  The Red Planet is also 4.1° to the lower right of Tejat Posterior (μ Gem, m = 2.8).  In this bright moonlight, use a binocular to spot the star cluster M35, 0.6° to the left of Mars.  Farther east, the nearly Full moon (15.0d, 100%) is over 12° above the east-southeast horizon.  The lunar orb is over 13° to the lower left Spica.  The moon reaches its Full phase (Pink Moon) at 10:32 p.m. CDT.

Read more about the planets during April 2021.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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