November 19-21, 2021: The bright morning moon is in front of the stars of Taurus in the western sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
The bright moon moves in front of the stars of Taurus on the mornings of November 19, 20, and 21.
An hour before sunrise the constellation Taurus is low in the western sky. The group consists of a bundle of stars that makes the letter “V” to represent the Bull’s head. The reddish star Aldebaran marks the eye. Two stars above the head, Elnath and Zeta Tauri, show the tips of the animal’s horns. The Pleiades star cluster seem to be riding on its back.
On the morning of November 19, the moon is ending its nearly-total lunar eclipse. The moon slips into the shadow earlier during the morning. By this hour, the best part of the eclipse is finished. See the article describing the eclipse and listen to the associated podcast.
The best part of the eclipse is over. The bright moon is 5.3° to the lower left of the Pleiades and 13.1° to the lower right of Aldebaran. Block out the moon’s brightness to see the cluster and the constellation’s brightest star.
November 20: This morning the moon is about 20° up in the west. It is quite bright, 99% illuminated, and casting shadows on the ground. The lunar orb is 5.8° to the upper right of Aldebaran.
November 21: Still bright, the moon is over 30° up in the west. This morning it seems to be caught between the Bull’s horns, Elnath and Zeta Tauri.
During the next few mornings, watch the moon appear higher in the sky and noticeably wane in phase. Even with the waning effect, the ample lunar illumination lights the ground and other terrestrial features, casting shadows.
January 5, 2022: Jupiter and the crescent are 5.5° in the evening sky. Look for Mercury and Saturn with the planet-moon duo. Earlier, Venus is low in the west-southwest. Before sunrise, Mars is near Antares.
January 4, 2022: Earth is at perihelion today – it’s closest point to the sun. Mars is a morning planet, while the evening planet pack – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – and the crescent moon are in the southwest after sundown.
January 3, 2022: The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus. As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest. Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.