October 8, 2021: The crescent moon approaches Venus in the western sky this evening, leading up to tomorrow’s close grouping of Venus, the crescent moon, and the three stars of the Scorpion’s head.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:55 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:20 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
At forty-five minutes after sunset, look for brilliant Venus and the crescent moon, 9% illuminated, in the southwestern sky after sunset.
Venus is 1.3° to the lower right of Dschubba, “the forehead of the scorpion.”
Tomorrow evening, Venus, the crescent moon, and the three stars of the Scorpion’s head – Graffias, Dschubba, Pi Scorpii (π Sco on the chart) – fit into a binocular field of view. This does not occur again until October 10, 2029.
The rarity of this event is affected by the separation of the three stars. They span about 6.5°, over 90% of a binocular’s field of view. The are a stationary target for the moon and planets to move through.
For example, during bright morning twilight on December 14, 2028, the moon is to the upper left of π Sco, but Venus is 4.2° to the upper right of Graffias, to far away to fit into the field of view with the three stars and the moon.
The moon is near the trio of stars each month. Venus passes at least yearly. The combination of Venus, and the moon with the three stars is a rarity.
At this hour look low in the southeastern sky for bright Jupiter and Saturn.
Detailed Daily Note: The moon is at perigee at 12:28 p.m. CDT, 225,797.4 miles away. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is over 9° up in the southwest, 1.3° to the lower right of Dschubba and 8.5° to the lower right of Antares. The moon (2.5d, 9%), 7.0° up in the west-southwest, is 11.8° to the lower right of Venus. Tomorrow evening, Venus, the moon, Graffias (β Sco, m = 2.5, Dschubba, and Pi Scorpii (π Sco, m = 2.9) fit into a binocular field. This is an infrequent event. See tomorrow’s note for more details. At this hour, bright Jupiter is nearly 25° up in the southeast. Saturn, over 26° up in the south-southeast, is 15.5° to the right of Jupiter. Two hours after sunset, use a binocular to spot the sidereal backdrop with the giant planets. Jupiter, over 31° up in the south-southeast, is 3.7° to the lower right of μ Cap, 1.9° to the upper right of Deneb Algedi, and 1.4° to the upper left of Nashira. Saturn, about 29° up in the south and slightly west of the meridian, is 1.5° to the lower right of υ Cap. Both giant planets are retrograding in Capricornus, although Saturn’s westward trek is very slow. The Ringed Wonder ends its retrograde in two evenings to begin its direct motion.
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.