2021, June: With a crescent moon in the eastern sky, bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southern sky. Saturn is retrograding in Capricornus, while Jupiter begins to slow its eastward progress in Aquarius.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Step outside during morning twilight during early June. A crescent moon shines from the eastern sky. Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the south.
Jupiter resembles a bright star. Its reflected sunlight makes it the brightest star in the sky this morning. The Jovian Giant is in front of the stars of Aquarius.
The planets move eastward compared to their starry background. During the first week of June, Jupiter moves about 0.3° to the east compared to the stars Iota Aquarii (ι Aqr on the chart), Theta Aquarii (θ Aqr) – “the knee” – and Sigma Aquarii (σ Aqr).
Jupiter is approaching the point where it stops moving eastward and begins to retrograde, an illusion of our faster moving Earth passing between the planet and the sun. From June 8 – June 21, Jupiter only advances another 0.3° eastward, when retrogrades begins.
Use a binocular to locate the planet among the dim stars of the constellation.
Saturn is over 18° to the west (right) of Jupiter. It is brighter than all the stars except for Jupiter, Arcturus, and Vega.
Saturn began retrograding last month and it is noticeably moving westward compared to the star Theta Capricorni (θ Cap). The planet stopped moving eastward and began its apparent westward trek on May 22. The Ringed Wonder stops retrograding on October 10.
Use a binocular to note the planet’s changing place compare to Theta.
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September 28, 2021: This morning the moon, as it approaches its Last Quarter phase, is high in the south at the Gemini – Taurus border. The evening planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – brightly shine after sunset.
September 27, 2021: Before sunrise this morning, the bright moon seems caught between the horns of Taurus, Elnath and Zeta Tauri. The planet pack, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, are visible after sundown.