May 3, 2021: The slightly gibbous moon is near Saturn this morning before sunrise. The lunar orb is 6.8° to the lower right of the Ringed Wonder. Jupiter is to the lower left of Saturn.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:44 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:52 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
During a 24-hour interval, five planets and the moon are visible. This morning the slightly gibbous moon is a guide to the morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn. (The moon reaches its Last Quarter phase later today, 2:50 p.m. CDT.)
Venus, Mercury, and Mars are visible in the western sky after sunset.
An hour before sunrise, the lunar orb is over 18° above the south-southeast horizon. Two bright “stars” are to the moon’s upper left.
Saturn is the one closer to the moon, 6.8° to the moon’s upper left.
Brighter Jupiter is 15.5° to the lower left of Saturn.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (21.3d, 54%) is over 18° above the south-southeast horizon. The lunar slice is 6.8° to the lower right of Saturn. Bright Jupiter is 15.5° to the lower left of Saturn. In the starfield, Saturn is 0.9° to the right of θ Cap, while Jupiter is 1.3° above ι Aqr. The moon is at its Last Quarter phase at 2:50 p.m. CDT. Twenty minutes after sunset, Venus is nearly 5° above the west-northwest horizon. Have you observed it without a binocular? Mercury (m = −0.9) is 6.4° to the upper left of Venus. This might be the last evening to see Rigel, “Orion’s left knee,” (β Ori, m = 0.2), without optical assistance near the horizon about 40 minutes after sunset. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Mercury is nearly 7° up in the west-northwest, 2.1° to the lower left of η Tau. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury is only 4° above the horizon. Mars is over 36° to the upper left of Mercury and below the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux. In the starfield, Mars is 2.4° to the upper right of μ Gem and 3.0° to the lower right of ε Gem.
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.