October 12, 2021: The moon, Saturn, and Jupiter are strung along the southern sky this evening after sunset. Venus continues its trek through Scorpius.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:00 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:14 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Sunrise is after 7 a.m. CDT beginning today, although when daylight time ends on November 7 and the clock is turned backwards, sunset falls back to 6:31 a.m. It does not return to 7 a.m. CDT and later until December 2.
After sunset, the moon, Saturn, and Jupiter are nearly in a line above the southern horizon. After brilliant Venus, Jupiter is the second brightest “star” in the sky tonight. It is to the far left of the scene. Saturn is between the lunar orb and the Jovian Giant.
The trio spans over 34° and snugly fits into the frame used here for diagrams. Tomorrow evening, the moon is closer to Saturn.
Brilliant Venus continues to shine in the southwest. Look for it at forty-five minutes after sunset. Use a binocular to spot it above a line from Dschubba – “the forehead of the Scorpion” – and Al Niyat – “the artery.” The brilliant planet is 4.3° to the right of Antares.
During the next few evenings watch Venus move past Al Niyat. On the evening of October 15, Venus, Antares, and Al Niyat dot the corners of a pretty celestial triangle.
Detailed Daily Note: Forty-five minutes after sunset, three bright planets and the nearly-first-quarter moon are in the evening sky. Brilliant Venus is nearly 10° up in the southwest, above a line from Dscubba to Al Niyat, 3.2° to the upper left of the former star and 2.3° to the upper right of the latter. Antares is 4.3° to the left of the planet. Farther eastward, the moon (6.5d, 48%) is over 21° up in the south, 2.7° to the upper left of Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr, m = 3.3), in the handle of the Teapot of Sagittarius. At this hour, Jupiter is 26.0° up in the southeast. Saturn, 15.4° to the right of Jupiter and 19.3° to the upper left of the moon, is over 27° up in the south-southeast. The planet is gently moving eastward compared to the starry background, while Jupiter continues to retrograde. Watch the gap between them continue to close for nearly two weeks. See the note for October 10. Two hours after sunset, the moon is about 19° above the south-southwest horizon. Jupiter is nearly 32° up in the south-southeast. In the starfield, it is 3.7° to the lower right of μ Cap, 2.0° to the upper right of Deneb Algedi, and 1.4° above Nashira. Use a binocular. Saturn is nearly 29° up in the south, west of the meridian. It is 1.5° to the lower right of υ dim Cap. The moon reaches its Last Quarter phase at 10:25 p.m. CDT.
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.