July 10-18 2021: Before sunrise Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest. Through a binocular watch them move westward compared to the starry background.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Jupiter and Saturn are retrograding in front of their starry backgrounds. This is an illusion as our planet approaches and passes between the outer planets and the sun.
The normal motion for the planets in the sky is to move eastward compared to the distant stars.
When Earth is between the sun and an outer planet, this is called opposition. The sun and planet are in opposite directions. The planet rises in the eastern sky when the sun sets in the western sky. In the morning, the planet sets in the western sky as the sun rises above the eastern horizon.
Near the time of opposition, the outer planets are near Earth. They are bright in the sky and are wonderful sights through telescopes.
Saturn is at opposition after midnight (in the Central Time Zone) on August 2. Jupiter follows 17 days later.
Jupiter and Saturn are well up in the southeastern sky as midnight approaches. As sunrise approaches, find them in the south-southwest.
Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the morning sky. Saturn is only dimmer than Jupiter, Mercury (in the east-northeast before sunrise), Arcturus, and Vega. It’s to the lower right of Jupiter.
The star Fomalhaut is to the lower left of bright Jupiter.
For several mornings, Jupiter seems to move little compared to the stars of Aquarius, Ancha (“the hip,” θ Cap on the chart), Iota Aquarii (ι Aqr), and Sigma Aquarii (σ Aqr). The planet is moving slowly westward compared to those stars.
Saturn is in front of Capricornus and to the lower right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap).
These planets seem to move westward compared to the stars slowly. During mid-July, Jupiter moves between two stars, 38 Aquarii (38 Aqr) and 42 Aquarii (42 Aqr). The chart above shows a view through a binocular for Jupiter from July 10 through July 18.
Each morning note Jupiter’s westward motion compared to those two stars.
Saturn is retrograding in Capricornus. Through a binocular watch it move away from Theta Capricorni, passing 19 Capricorni (19 Cap).
Watch the planets each clear morning as they retrograde.
Articles and Summaries
- Venus as an Evening Star
- Venus Evening Star (Summary)
- Mars during 2021 (Summary)
- July Planet Summary 2021 (Summary)
August 9, 2021: After the New moon yesterday morning, the crescent moon appears in the evening sky during bright twilight near Mars.
August 3, 2021: Four planets appear in the evening sky. Brilliant Evening Star Venus and dim Mars are in the west after sunset. A little later during the evening, Saturn and Jupiter are easily visible in the southeast.
August 2, 2021: Saturn is at opposition with the sun. Earth is between the sun and the planet.
August 1 – 6, 2021: The morning moon wanes toward its New moon phase in the eastern sky. It passes the bright stars that are prominent in the evening sky during the winter season in the northern hemisphere. The stars have been making their first appearances in the morning sky during summer. At this hour, Procyon and bright Sirius are the last stellar duo to appear.
August 6, 2021: In the northern hemisphere, summer’s midpoint occurs today at 6:27 p.m. CDT.