May 2, 2021: Five planets are visible during a 24-hour cycle. This morning the bright, gibbous moon joins bright Jupiter and Saturn in the southeastern sky before sunrise.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:45 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:51 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
During a 24-hour spell, the five naked-eye planets are visible. Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.
The gibbous moon, Saturn, and Jupiter are lined-up above the horizon this morning.
Step outside about an hour before sunrise. The bright moon, 65% illuminated is over 20° up in the southeastern sky. It is about 19° to the right of Saturn.
Bright Jupiter is 15.4° to the lower left of Saturn.
Both planets are brighter than the stars in the region. Jupiter is brighter than all the stars in the morning sky.
Tomorrow morning the moon is closer to Saturn.
The moon’s changing nightly location shows a large eastward motion of the solar system’s objects compared to the starry background. It seems to hop eastward about 13° from night to night.
Jupiter and Saturn slowly move eastward as well. Their motion is not as obvious as the moon’s eastward race. Jupiter is moving eastward in Aquarius, while Saturn is moving in Capricornus.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (20.3d, 65%) is over 20° above the southeast horizon. It is 19° to the right of Saturn. Use a binocular to spot θ Cap, 0.9° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder. Bright Jupiter is 15.4° to the lower left of Saturn. Use a binocular to see the Jovian Giant in front of the dimmer starry background. The planet is 5.0° to the left of δ Cap and 1.4° above ι Aqr. Twenty minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is nearly 5° above the west-northwest horizon. Can you see it without a binocular? Mercury is 5.4° above Venus. If not naked eye at this time interval the planet shows as the sky darkens and the celestial sphere turns westward. By 45 minutes after sunset, Mercury is over 6° above the west-northwest horizon and 3.1° to the lower left of η Tau, the brightest star in the Pleiades star cluster. By one hour after sunset, Mars is over one-third of the way up in the west in Gemini. It is 2.2° to the upper right of μ Gem and 4.4° to the lower right of ε Gem. A binocular helps see the starfield with the planet.
Read more about the planets during May 2021.
October 23, 2021: This morning the bright moon is near the Pleiades star cluster. Mercury is making its best morning appearance. In the evening sky, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are easy to spot.
October 22. 2021: Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise. It is putting on its best morning performance of the year. Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.
October 21-November 1, 2021: Brilliant Venus steps through Ophiuchus to the upper left of the star Antares in the southwest after sunset . Afterward, the planet steps farther eastward.
October 21, 2021: The bright moon is low in the west about an hour before sunrise. Mercury is in the east at about the same altitude as Arcturus. Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter shine from the evening sky.
December 18, 2021: This is the anticipated launch date of the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most sophisticated space telescope view the universe.