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.
December 28, 2021: Brilliant Venus is quickly slipping from the evening sky. Mercury appears beneath Venus after sunset. This duo is joined by Jupiter and Saturn. In the morning, Mars is near Antares and the moon near Spica.
December 27, 2021: The Red Planet Mars passes Antares this morning before sunrise. At the same hour, the moon is near Spica. The three bright planets – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the evening sky.
November 25, 2021: This is my postcard to my friends on Earth.
December 21, 2021: The winter solstice occurs at 9:59 a.m. CST. Mars is in the morning sky along with a bright moon. The planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – is in the southwestern sky after sunset.
December 19, 20, and 21, 2021: The bright moon leading up to the winter solstice appears in the western sky before sunrise in front of Gemini.