2021, October 25:  Caught Between the Horns

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.

2021, October 25: The gibbous moon is slightly above a line from Elnath to Zeta Tauri – the Bull’s horns.
Chart Caption – 2021, October 25: The gibbous moon is slightly above a line from Elnath to Zeta Tauri – the Bull’s horns.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:15 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:54 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

DAILY NOTES FOR OCTOBER 2021

VENUS AS AN EVENING STAR 2021

Morning Sky

This morning the bright gibbous moon seems to be caught between the horns of Taurus.  At one hour before sunrise, the lunar orb is 60° above the west-southwest horizon.  It is above a line from Elnath to Zeta Tauri, the horn stars.

Moon in the Bull's Horns. October 8, 2020
2020, October 8: Among the stars along the ecliptic, the gibbous moon, overexposed and behind the tree leaves, is 3.3° to the upper left of Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau), the Southern Horn of Taurus, and nearly 7° to the lower left of Elnath, the Northern Horn.

The photo above shows the moon over a year ago near the Bull’s horns. (The moon and stars were nearly in the same place in the sky as this morning.)  The leaves provided enough shade from the moon’s glare to see and photograph the two stars.

Farther eastward, Mercury is in this year’s best morning observing position.  From our world, Mercury does not venture far from the sun.  The planet was it its greatest separation from the sun this morning after midnight, but it rises 96 minutes before sunrise. 

2021, October 25: Before sunrise, Mercury is in its best morning appearance of the year.
Chart Caption – 2021, October 25: Before sunrise, Mercury is in its best morning appearance of the year.

By 45 minutes before sunup, Mercury is about 9° up in the east-southeast.  It is bright and easily seen without a binocular, although with the optical aid, spot the star Porrima, 3.6° to the upper right of the speedy planet.

Arcturus, low in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude – height above the horizon – as Mercury and about 30° to the left of the planet.

Evening Sky

As the sky darkens, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southern sky.  The planets are visible against the stars of Capricornus.  Both are moving eastward against the stars.  Yesterday’s article has a diagram showing the positions of Jupiter and Saturn compared to the starry background.

Brilliant Venus is in the southwest after sunset.  It is stepping eastward compared to Ophiuchus.  Use a binocular to spot the planet 2.6° to the lower right of Theta Ophiuchi.  See this article with its diagram showing the nightly places of Venus compared to the star.

Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (19.0d, 80%), 60° up in the west-southwest, is above a line from Elnath to ζ Tau.  The lunar orb is about midway along the line. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury (m = − 0.7), nearly 9° up in the east-southeast, is 3.6° to the lower left of Porrima.  Notice that Arcturus is at about the same altitude about 30° to the left of the speedy planet. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus, over 11° above the southwest horizon, continues to step through Ophiuchus, 2.6° to the lower right of θ Oph.  Farther eastward, Saturn is over 28° up in the south.  Jupiter – at about the same altitude as Saturn – is 15.3° to the east (left) of Saturn.  By two hours after sunset, Saturn is west of the meridian, at an altitude of over 28°. The Ringed Wonder is 1.3° to the lower right of υ Cap.  Higher in the sky than Saturn and east of the meridian, bright Jupiter is 3.7° to the lower right of μ Cap, 2.0° to the upper right of Deneb Algedi, and 1.4° above Nashira.  As midnight approaches, the moon (19.7d, 74%), 26.0° up in the east-northeast, is 3.3° to the upper left of Tejat Posterior (μ Gem, m = 2.8).

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