2021, April 26: Morning Jupiter, Saturn, Bright Moon

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April 26, 2021: The bright morning moon is in the west-southwest before sunrise.  Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast at about one hour before sunrise.  Both planets are slowly moving eastward compared to the sidereal background.

Chart Caption – 2021, April 26: The bright moon and Spica are in the west-southwest before sunrise. The star Arcturus is higher in the sky.

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.

This morning the bright moon is about 10° up in the west-southwest.  It is 5.0° above Spica.  Bright Jupiter is farther east, over 15° above the southeast horizon.  The Jovian Giant is trekking eastward in Aquarius.

Chart Caption – 2021, April 26: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Use a binocular to see the starry background.

With a binocular, watch Jupiter’s place change from morning to morning.  This morning, the planet is 4.2° to the upper left of Deneb Algiedi, “the kid’s tail,” (δ Cap on the chart), 1.5° to the lower left of Mu Capricorni (μ Cap), and 1.9° to the upper right of Iota Aquarii (ι Aqr).

Saturn is dimmer than Jupiter, but it is brighter than all the other stars in the region.  The Ringed Wonder is 14.7° to the upper right of Jupiter. 

Saturn rises over 3 hours before sunrise and 40 minutes before Jupiter.  By one hour before sunrise, the planet is nearly 20° up in the southeast.

Saturn is gently moving eastward.  Each morning, note its place compared to the star Theta Capricorni (θ Cap).

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.

This striking view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and turbulent southern hemisphere was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet.

2021, July 26: Evening Sky, Mars Closes In

July 26, 2021:  Four bright planets are in the evening sky.  Mars closes in on Regulus for their conjunction in three evenings.  Brilliant Evening Star Venus appears to the upper left of the impending Mars – Regulus conjunction.  Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky after sunset.

2021, July 25: Evening Sky, Mars on Final Approach

July 25, 2021:  Four evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, find Mars in the western sky to the lower right of Venus.  As the calendar day ends, look for the moon below bright Jupiter.

2021, July 24: Four Evening Planets, Moon

July 24, 2021: After sunset, Venus and Mars are in the western sky.  A little later during evening hours, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn in the southeast.

2021, July 29: Jupiter – Mars Opposition

July 29, 2021:  Jupiter and Mars are 180° apart along the ecliptic.  Dim Mars sets in the west-northwest as Jupiter rises in the east-southeast.  This event signals that soon both appear in the sky simultaneously.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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