2021, August 12: Evening Sky, Lunar Dance

August 12, 2021: This evening the crescent moon appears between Venus and Spica as the lunar slice dances eastward.

2021, August 12: The crescent moon is 9.0° to the upper right of Spica, while Venus is near Zavijava.
Chart Caption – 2021, August 12: The crescent moon is 9.0° to the upper right of Spica, while Venus is near Zavijava.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:56 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:55 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

The crescent moon appears between Venus and the star Spica this evening. Forty-five minutes after sunset, find the lunar slice, 22% illuminated, nearly 18° above the west-southwest horizon.  Each evening the moon appears farther eastward and its phase continues to grow (wax).

The crescent is 9.0° to the upper right of the star Spica, “the ear of corn,” the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.

Spica is slowly appearing lower in the western sky each evening.

Other stars in Virgo are visible, but use a binocular to locate them at this level of evening twilight.

The crescent is 6.2° to the upper left of Porrima, also known as Gamma Virginis.

At this hour brilliant Venus is about 8° up in the west.  The binocular will help locating Zavijava, “the corner of the barking dog,” the second brightest star in the constellation.

Watch Venus move eastward compared to the starry background.  Venus passes Zavijava and Porrima during the month and moves toward Spica.  The Venus – Spica gap is 27.9° this evening.

Farther eastward Saturn and bright Jupiter are in the southeastern sky this evening, although at this hour, Jupiter is low in the sky, likely behind a neighbor’s house or a fully-leafed tree.  Look later in the evening to see Jupiter and Saturn higher in the southeast.

If you missed the Perseid meteor shower peak this morning, the shower continues tomorrow morning after midnight and before the beginning of morning twilight.

Detailed Daily Note: This is the peak morning for the Perseid meteor shower.  Look for the meteors after midnight and before the beginning of morning twilight that begins 107 minutes before sunrise.  One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is nearly 18° up in the southwest, 1.2° to the lower right of ι Aqr and 4.6° to the upper left of Deneb Algedi. (δ Cap, m = 2.8).  As the sky brightens further, look for Sirius low in the east southeast. Forty-five minutes after sunset, the crescent moon (4.5d, 22%) is nearly 18° above the west-southwest horizon.  The lunar slice is 9.0° to the upper right of Spica and 6.2° to the upper left of Porrima (γ Vir, m = 3.4).  Brilliant Venus is about 8° above the western horizon and 1.1° to the lower right of Zavijava.  At this twilight level, a binocular may be needed to see the dimmer stars with the moon and Venus. The Venus – Spica gap is 27.9°.  Farther eastward, Saturn is 12.0° up in the southeast, while Jupiter is over 4° above the east-southeast horizon.  Two hours after sunset, Saturn is higher in the sky, about 22° up in the southeast.  In the starfield, it is 4.7° to the upper right of θ Cap and 1.7° to the lower left of υ Cap.  Jupiter is to the lower left of Saturn, 16° up in the southeast.

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