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.
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.
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.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.
December 30, 2021: The morning crescent moon seems to be captured in the Scorpion’s pincers to the upper right of Mars. Four Evening Planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the southwest after sundown.
December 28, 2021: The Great Andromeda Galaxy is nearly overhead at the end of the evening twilight.
December 29, 2021: The morning crescent moon approaches Scorpius and Mars. In the evening sky, four evening planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are lined up in the southwest. Venus is rapidly leaving the evening sky.