October 3, 2021: Before sunrise, the thin crescent moon is in the eastern sky, to the lower left of Regulus. After sunset, the planet pack – Evening Star Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – shine brightly.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:50 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:28 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Before sunrise, the lunar crescent, 11% illuminated, is about one-third of the way up in the eastern sky. The lunar slice is 4.7° to the lower left of Regulus – “the prince.” The celestial lion is facing upward at this hour and toward the west. The constellation is outlined by a backwards question mark of stars – the Sickle of Leo – and a triangle.
The bright planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – is visible shortly after sunset. Look to the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset, Venus is over 9° up in the sky. It is approaching the head of Scorpius. The brilliant planet is 6.6° to the lower right of Dschubba this evening. In less than a week, Venus, the moon, and the three stars of the Scorpion’s head are bunched together in a rare gathering of the five objects.
Farther eastward, bright Jupiter is over 20° up in the southeast. After Venus sets, 104 minutes after sundown, Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the evening sky, followed by Arcturus, Vega, Saturn, and Capella.
After Venus and Jupiter, the other stars this evening do not seem so bright. Jupiter is over 10 times brighter than Arcturus. Vega, Saturn, and Capella have nearly the same visual intensity to our eyes.
Saturn is 15.7° to the upper right of Jupiter. Both planets continue to retrograde in Capricornus, the illusion of westward motion compared to the starry background. This is from our faster moving planet moving between these planets and the sun. The distant stars form a distant background.
During the first few weeks of autumn, locate the star Fomalhaut – “the mouth of the southern fish” – over 20° to the lower left of Jupiter. Find it later during the evening. The star is the 13th brightest star visible from the mid-northern latitudes and the 17th brightest from anywhere on our planet.
Saturn is in the south about two hours after sunset. Jupiter follows about 90 minutes later. This giant-planet duo sets in the southwest after midnight.
Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, the crescent moon (26.4d, 11%), nearly 26° up in the east, is 4.7° to the lower left of Regulus (α Leo, m = 1.3). About 45 minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is over 9° up in the southwest, 6.6° to the lower right of Dschubba, and 14.0° to the lower right of Antares. Farther eastward, Saturn is nearly 26° up in the south-southeast, 15.7° to the upper right of bright Jupiter. The Jovian Giant is nearly 24° above the southeastern horizon. Two hours after sunset, use a binocular to spot υ Cap, 1.4° to the upper left of Saturn. The Ringed Wonder is approaching the meridian, about 29° above the horizon. Jupiter is over 30° above the south-southeast horizon, 3.5° to the lower right of μ Cap, 1.8° to the upper right of Deneb Algedi, and 1.5° to the upper left of Nashira. Notice Fomalhaut (α PsA, m = 1.2), nearly 11° up in the south-southeast and about 23° to the lower left of Jupiter.
October 22. 2021: Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise. It is putting on its best morning performance of the year. Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.
October 21-November 1, 2021: Brilliant Venus steps through Ophiuchus to the upper left of the star Antares in the southwest after sunset . Afterward, the planet steps farther eastward.
October 21, 2021: The bright moon is low in the west about an hour before sunrise. Mercury is in the east at about the same altitude as Arcturus. Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter shine from the evening sky.
December 18, 2021: This is the anticipated launch date of the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most sophisticated space telescope view the universe.
October 20, 2021: Mercury is brightening in the morning sky. Brilliant Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky. The bright moon starts the evening low in the eastern sky.