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2021, September 29:  Gemini Moon, Evening Planet Pack

2020, July 17: The crescent moon appears near Venus before sunrise. The night portion of the moon is gently illuminated by earthshine.

Photo Caption - 2020, July 17: The crescent moon appears near Venus before sunrise. The night portion of the moon is gently illuminated by earthshine.

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September 29, 2021:  The thick crescent moon is in the southeast before sunrise, approaching the middle of Gemini.  The evening planet pack is visible after sunset.

Chart Caption – 2021, September 29: Before sunrise, the thick crescent moon is 12.0° to the right of Castor, one of the Gemini Twins.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:46 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:35 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

An hour before sunrise, the thick crescent moon, 46% illuminated, is over two-thirds of the way up in the southeastern sky.  It is nearing the middle of Gemini, 12.0° to the right of Castor.  Castor’s twin, Pollux, is 4.5° below the star.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2021, September 29: Forty-five minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is low in the southwest, 11.1° to the lower right of Dschubba.

The bright evening planet pack, Evening Star Venus, bright Jupiter, and Saturn, are easy to spot.  Forty-five minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is about 9° up in the southwest.  Find a clear horizon to see it.  The planet is easy to locate through the colorful layers of evening twilight.

Venus steps eastward each evening compared to the background stars. Venus is trekking toward the three stars that make the head of the Scorpion – Graffias, Dschubba, and Pi Scorpii (π Sco on the chart.)  This evening, the planet is 11.1° to the lower right of Dschubba.  Venus passes this star and it is joined by a crescent moon on October 9.  Venus, the crescent moon, and the three stars make a close grouping that fit into a single binocular field. 

The three stars make a target that nearly spans a binocular field.  Adding Venus and the moon is a rare sight.  After the October 9 grouping, the next time this is visible is October 10, 2029.

After passing Dschubba, Venus continues its eastward ramble, passing Antares on the evening of October 16. 

Note the location of Venus compared to the stars each clear evening.  Catch the brilliant planet long before it sets 101 minutes after sunset.

Chart Caption – 2021, September 29: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast after sunset.

Farther eastward, bright Jupiter is low in the southeast when Venus is in the southwest.  Saturn is nearly 16° to the upper right of the Jovian Giant.  After Venus sets, only Jupiter, Arcturus, and Vega are brighter than the Ringed Wonder.

Jupiter and Saturn are retrograding in front of the stars of Capricornus until next month.

During the night, Jupiter and Saturn appear farther westward.  By three hours after sunset, both are in the southern sky. Saturn sets tomorrow morning about five hours before sunrise.  Jupiter follows less than 90 minutes later.

Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (22.4d, 46%) is nearly 67° up in the southeast, 12.0° to the upper right of Castor (α Gem, m = 1.6).  Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easily spotted in the evening sky as night falls.  Forty-five minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is about 9° up in the southwest, 0.5° to the left of ι Lib.  As it moves farther eastward in the Classic Scorpion (Libra and Scorpius), it edges toward the next bright star Dschubba (δ Sco, m = 2.3).  The gap is 11.1°.  Additionally, Venus is 18.4° to the lower right of Antares.  Saturn is east of the Scorpion and Sagittarius.  Retrograding in Capricornus, it is 25° up in the south-southeast.  Jupiter, 15.9° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder, is over 20° above the southeast horizon. Venus sets 101 minutes after sundown.  Two hours after sunset, Saturn is less than one-third of the way up in the south, but east of the meridian.  In the starfield, it is 1.4° to the lower right of υ Cap.  Jupiter, 30° up in the south-southeast, is 3.3° to the lower right of μ Cap, 1.7° to the upper right of Deneb Algedi, and 1.5° to the upper left of Nashira.

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