September 2, 2021: Three bright planets are easily observed in the evening sky. In the western sky, Venus is approaching Spica for a wide conjunction in three evenings. Before sunrise, the crescent moon is in the eastern sky with Castor and Pollux.
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by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:18 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:22 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
This morning, the crescent moon that is in front of the stars of Gemini to the right of Castor and Pollux. Find them nearly halfway up in the eastern sky, about an hour before sunrise.
The moon is 21% illuminated, a beautiful morning crescent. The night portion of the moon is gently illuminated by sunlight reflected from Earth’s clouds, oceans, and land.
Look at the moon with a binocular. The earthshine is accented in this view.
Earthshine can be photographed with a tripod mounted camera with an exposure of a few seconds.
In the evening sky, three bright planets are visible after sunset. About 45 minutes after sundown, Venus is near Spica, just three evenings before their conjunction.
Look for it shining through the colorful layers of evening twilight in the western sky. It is about 8° up in the west-southwest. The star Spica is 3.6° to the lower left of the brilliant planet. Venus sets about 90 minutes after sunset.
At this time look toward the southeast. Bright Jupiter and Saturn are low in the sky. Saturn is about 19° above the horizon. Jupiter, the second brightest “star” in the sky this evening, is to the lower left of Saturn.
Look at Jupiter through a binocular. Up to four of its satellites are visible as dim stars on either side of the solar system’s largest world.
During the next few months, observe Jupiter and Saturn through telescopes at public events with local astronomy clubs or through the neighborhood sky watcher’s telescope. Views of the planets are memorable experiences.
Detailed Daily Note:One hour before sunrise, the moon (24.8d, 21%) is about 40° up in the eastern sky, 4.9° to the upper right of Iota Geminorum (ι Gem, m = 3.8). Twenty-five minutes after sunset, Mercury (m = 0.0), is over 4° up in the west-southwest. Use a binocular to locate it. Twenty minutes later, Venus is nearly 8° up in the west-southwest, 3.6° to the upper right of Spica, and 3.1° to the lower left of θ Cap. The planet seems to be struggling to gain any altitude. While it is farther southward each evening, its altitude is consistent from evening to evening. Farther eastward, Saturn is 19.0° up in the southeast. Jupiter (m = −2.8), 17.4° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder, is over 13° above the east-southeast horizon. Two hours after sunset. bright Jupiter is nearly 24° up in the southeast, 3.7° to the upper right of ι Aqr, 0.8° to the lower right of μ Cap, and 2.1° to the upper left of Deneb Algedi. The Jovian Giant is to the right of a line from μ Cap to δ Cap. Saturn, 26.0° above the south-southeast horizon, is 1.0° below υ Cap. Use a binocular to see the planets with their starry backgrounds.
Articles and Summaries
- 2023, December 19: A Scorpion Fumble, Moon MidwayDecember 19, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus appears below the Scorpion’s claws. After sundown, the moon is nearly midway from Saturn to Jupiter.
- 2023, December 18: Pinched VenusDecember 18, 2023: Look for Venus between the Scorpion’s claws in the southeast before sunrise. The thick crescent moon is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn.
- 2023, December 17: Celestial PairsDecember 17, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus passes Zubenelgenubi, a planet-star conjunction. After sundown, Saturn and crescent moon are paired, a planet-moon conjunction.
- 2023, December 16: Venus Clawed, Evening Crescent Nears SaturnDecember 16, 2023: Before daybreak, Venus is above the Scorpion’s southern claw. After nightfall, the crescent moon nears Saturn.
- 2023, December 15: Brilliant Morning Star, Evening Lunar CrescentDecember 15, 2023: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus approaches Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s southern claw. The crescent moon returns to the western evening sky.