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.
June 15, 2021: The moon is with the Sickle of Leo this evening. Step outside about an hour after sunset to find the crescent moon that is about 30% illuminated over one-third of the way up in the west.
July 12, 2021: Venus – Mars conjunction evening. Evening Star Venus passes 0.5° to the upper right of the Red Planet. The crescent moon is nearby. This is the first of three conjunctions of Venus and Mars – a triple conjunction.
July 1, 2021: Saturn and Mars are in opposite directions in the sky. Mars sets as Saturn rises. In about a week, the two planets are visible in the sky at the same time. This event signals that the planet parade is starting to reorganize. During July, three other planet – planet oppositions occur, leading up to a challenging view of the five bright planets during mid-August.
June 13, 2021: After sunset, look for the thin crescent moon near Mars. The lunar sliver is also to the upper left of the star Pollux.
June 11, 2021: During the early evening brilliant Evening Star Venus and the crescent moon appear together in the west-northwest after sunset. The pairing is the second closest during this appearance of Venus in the evening sky.