April 29, 2021: Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are in the west-northwest during bright twilight. As the sky darkens, Mars is at the feet of Gemini in the western sky. Through a binocular the Red Planet is above the star cluster Messier 35.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:49 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:47 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Vega, “the falling eagle,” rises at sunset. An hour later, the bright star is low in the northeast. Find it higher in the northeastern sky later during the evening hours.
Vega is the third brightest star, after Sirius and Arcturus, visible from the mid-northern latitudes. Sirius is low in the west-southeast after sunset, while Arcturus is high in the eastern sky at this hour.
Brilliant Venus is seemingly on a slow track into the evening sky. Mercury is beginning its best appearance in the evening sky for the year.
Both are visible during bright twilight in the west-northwest. Twenty minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is over 4° above the horizon. An elevated spot makes it easier to find the planet. Use a binocular to initially locate the bright world. Mercury is 3.7° above Venus and within the field of view of the binocular.
Read more about Venus in our summary document.
An hour after sunset, Mars is at the feet of Gemini, over 36° up in the western sky. The Red Planet is 2.3° to the upper right of Propus, “the projecting foot,” (η Gem on the chart) and 2.7° to the right of Tejat Posterior, “the heel,” (μ Gem).
Mars continues its eastward march through Gemini.
Mars is now past the star cluster Messier 35, but both are still within the same binocular field of view. The planet is 1.8° to the upper left of the cluster.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Read about Mars during April.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (17.3d, 92%) is over 20° above the south-southwest horizon. The lunar orb is 3.7° above Antares. Farther eastward, Saturn is over 20° above the southeast horizon. It is 1.0° to the upper right of θ Cap. Jupiter is 15.0° to the lower left of Saturn. The Jovian Giant is 4.6° to the left of Deneb Algiedi, 2.0° to the lower left of μ Cap, and 1.6° to the upper right of ι Aqr. The gap between Jupiter and Saturn has not been this wide since late December 2019, when Jupiter was near its solar conjunction and Saturn was setting about 70 minutes after sunset. Vega (α Lyr, m = 0.0) rises at sunset. Twenty minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is over 4° above the west-northwest horizon. Mercury (m = −1.2) is 3.7° above Venus. One hour after sunset, Mars is over 36° above the western horizon in front of the starry background of Gemini. In the starfield, the Red Planet is 2.3° to the upper right of Propus and 2.7° to the right of Tejat Posterior. Still in the view of a binocular, the star cluster M35 is 1.8° to the lower right of the planet.
Read more about the planets during April 2021.
November 3, 2021: Before sunrise speedy planet Mercury, the crescent moon, and the star Spica are grouped together. The trio does not appear this close together again until 2033.
October 31, 2021: There is no Halloween Full moon this year, and the phase is not close. The crescent moon is in the morning sky. Mercury is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. The planet pack – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – gleam in the evening sky.
October 29, 2021: Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the sun. It is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn. The crescent moon and Mercury are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!
October 26, 27, and 28, 2021: During the early morning hours, the bright gibbous moon appears in front of Gemini’s stars.