October 1, 2021: Before sunrise, the lunar crescent is near the Beehive star cluster.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:48 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:32 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
As the moon treks toward its New moon phase, it is about halfway up in the sky above the east-southeast horizon, 3.3° to the upper left of the Beehive star cluster (M44 on the chart). To the unaided eye, the cluster resembles a faint cotton ball.
Look for the pair, at least an hour before sunrise. While the Beehive can be seen without the optical assist of a binocular, lights in your city may make the sky brighter than the cluster.
The Beehive cluster is sometimes called the Praesepe, manger. Two stars that represent donkeys are nearby that occasionally eat from the manger. The stars Asellus Borealis (γ Cnc) and Asellus Australis (δ Cnc) are above and below the cluster.
The cluster is about 600 light years away. In the sky it looks larger than the moon.
This morning take a look for the manger and the donkeys.
Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (24.4 days after the New phase, 27% illuminated is over halfway up in the east-southeast. Use a binocular to see it 3.3° to the upper left of the Beehive star cluster (M44, NGC 2632) and 2.3° above Asellus Borealis (γ Cnc, m = 4.6). Forty-five minutes after sundown, Venus (m = −4.3) is nearly 9° above the southwest horizon, 8.9° to the lower right of Dschubba (δ Sco, m = 2.3), and 16.2° to the lower right of Antares (m = 1.0). Saturn (m = 0.5), over 25° up in the south-southeast, is 73.0° of ecliptic longitude east of Venus. Saturn continues to retrograde in Capricornus, but its westward rate is slowing. Jupiter (m = −2.7), 23.0° up in the southeast, is 15.8° of ecliptic longitude east of Saturn. The Jovian Giant continues to poke along westward, reducing the distance to Saturn each evening. Two hours after sunset, Saturn is nearly 29° up in the south, east of the meridian. In the starfield, use a binocular to see it 1.4° to the lower right of Upsilon Capricorni (υ Cap, m =5.1). Bright Jupiter is over one-third of the way up in the sky above the southeast horizon. It is 3.4° to the lower right of Mu Capricorni (μ Cap, m = 5.1), 1.7° to the upper right of Deneb Algedi (δ Cap, m = 2.8), and 1.5° to the upper left of Nashira (γ Cap, m = 3.6).
October 29, 2021: Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the sun. It is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn. The crescent moon and Mercury are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!
October 26, 27, and 28, 2021: During the early morning hours, the bright gibbous moon appears in front of Gemini’s stars.
October 26, 2021: Mercury is at its greatest morning appearance for the year. Look low in the east-southeast before sunrise.
October 25, 2021: This morning the bright gibbous moon seems to be caught between the horns of Taurus. Mercury is making its best morning appearance. The planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky.