Morning Star Venus, bright Mars, and the constellation Orion shine from the skies this morning.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
With the bright moon in the sky, outside the frame of the image, Mars shines brightly from the dim stars of Pisces. The planet is slowly stepping eastward in the constellation, to the left in the photo.
Tomorrow evening (September 5) and the following morning, the bright moon appears near Mars
On September 9, the planet seems to reverse its direction and begins to move westward compared to the stars. This retrograde motion is an illusion as our faster moving planet approaches the Red Planet.
The chart above shows the motion of Mars compared to the stars during September.
Earth and Mars are closest on October 6. Earth passes between the sun and Mars on October 13. During the next month the planet continues to grow in brightness and apparent size through a telescope, although unlike what is shown in the social media memes.
Farther east, brilliant Morning Star Venus shines brightly from below Castor and Pollux, the Gemini Twins. This morning it moves into the dimmer stars of Cancer. In 10 days, the crescent moon joins Venus as it moves near the Beehive star cluster.
Orion rises in the southeast this morning. Its bright stars, Betelgeuse and Rigel, mark opposite corners of the famous star pattern. In the clear skies this morning, the Orion Nebula (M42 on the photo) stands out. (The short time exposure reveals some color that is not visible, even with a binocular.)
Here is a daily summary about the planets during September.
April 19, 2021: The first evening appearance of Venus for this apparition occurs this evening. Look for it low in the west-northwest about 20 minutes after sunset.
April 19, 2021: Venus begins to appear in the west after sunset. The moon lines up with Pollux and Castor, while Mars is above Bull’s horns in the western evening sky.
April 19, 2021: The bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Capricornus is the starry background for this giant planet duo.
April 18, 2021: The crescent moon is high in the west after sunset among the stars of Gemini, below Pollux and Castor. Mars is above the Bull’s horns. Daylight is 13 hours, 30 minutes long.
April 18, 2021: The bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Capricornus is the starry background for this giant planet duo. Daylight is 13 hours, 30 minutes long.