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

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.

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. (NASA Photo)

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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.

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