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2021, May 13: Bright Jupiter, Saturn Morning Planets

This striking view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and turbulent southern hemisphere was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet.

This striking view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and turbulent southern hemisphere was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet. (NASA Photo)

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May 13, 2021: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are the morning planets in the southeast before sunrise.

Chart Caption – 2021, May 13: Jupiter and Saturn are the bright planets in the southeast before sunrise.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:32 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:02 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

From Chicago’s latitude, daylight’s length is 14.5 hours.  Day length has gained 30 minutes in less than 2 weeks.

The morning planet parade continues with two of the five bright planet visible in the southeast before sunup.

One hour before sunrise, Saturn is nearly 25° above the south-southeast horizon.  It is slowly moving eastward compared to the stellar background of Capricornus.  The planet is 0.7° to the right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap on the chart).

Bright Jupiter is over 20° above the southeast horizon, over 16° to the lower left of Saturn.

Both planets are bright.  Jupiter outshines all the stars in the morning sky, while Saturn is dimmer than Jupiter, but brighter than most of the stars this morning.

Jupiter is also moving eastward compared to the sidereal background.  It is in front of Aquarius.  The Jovian Giant is 1.5° to the upper left of Iota Capricorni (ι Aqr) and 5.0° to the lower right of Ancha (θ Aqr), “the hip.”

The planet parade is interrupted by the sun’s brilliance.  As the day unfolds, Jupiter and Saturn set in the west.

This evening, brilliant Venus, Mercury, Moon, and Mars are visible.

Detailed Note: Jupiter and Saturn continue to climb into the southeastern sky.  One hour before sunrise, Saturn is nearly 25° above the south-southeast horizon. It is approaching θ Cap.  The gap is 0.7° with the planet to the right of the star.  Jupiter – over 20° up in the southeast – is 16.5° to the lower left of Saturn. The Jovian Giant is 1.5° to the upper left if ι Aqr and 5.0° to the lower right of Theta Aquarii (Ancha, θ Aqr, m = 4.2). The sun is in the sky for 14.5 hours. Three planets and the moon are visible after sunset.  Start about 30 minutes after sundown.  Brilliant Venus is over 5° above the west-northwest horizon.  Use a binocular to locate the thin crescent moon (2.3d, 4%), 11.2° to the upper left of Venus.  Mercury (m = 0.0) is 3.2° to the lower right of the lunar slice.  As the sky darkens, the moon and Mercury are easier to locate, but Venus is lower.  This may be the last evening to locate Aldebaran without optical assistance. By 45 minutes after sundown, Venus is 3.0° above the west-northwest horizon; the moon is 12.2° up; and Mercury is 11.4° in altitude.  Mars – in Gemini over 32° up in the west – is about 25° to the upper left of the lunar crescent.  By one hour after sunset, Venus is barely above the horizon.  The moon is nearly 10° up, while Mercury is about 9° above the west-northwest horizon.  The moon is 7.3° to the lower left of Elnath (β Tau, m = 1.6).  Mars is 2.4° to the upper left of ε Gem and 4.4° to the right of ζ Gem.

Read more about the planets during May 2021.

2021, December 29: Moon Nears Scorpion, Venus Departs

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.

2021, December 28:  Venus Slips, Mercury Hops

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.

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