This evening the crescent moon appears in the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset, over 30° to the lower right of Jupiter. In a darker sky, Jupiter continues to close in on Saturn before the Great Conjunction as Mars picks up speed toward the east among the stars of Pisces.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:41 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:30 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The thin crescent moon can be found low in the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset. It is over 30° to the lower right of Jupiter that is in the south-southwest. Find a clear horizon toward the southwest to see the moon. A tripod-mounted camera with exposures up to 10 seconds can capture earthshine – sunlight reflected from the earth’s features gently illuminates the night portion of the moon.
As the sky darkens further, Saturn is visible 3.6° to the upper left of Jupiter. The gap between the two giant planets continues to shrink as Jupiter slowly overtakes Saturn, leading up to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.
With a binocular notice that the two planets are in a dim starfield. Tonight, they make a small triangle with the dim star 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr on the chart) and Jupiter is 3.3° to the upper left of dim 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).
Jupiter sets in the west at 8:45 p.m. CST (4 hours, 15 minutes after sunset) and Saturn follows several minutes later.
Mars is farther east, about one-third of the way up in the east-southeast. In the starfield, Mars is slowly moving eastward after appearing to reverse its direction a few evenings ago. It will pick up its eastward march among the dim stars of Pisces. This evening Mars is 3.1° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc on the chart) and 3.0° below Delta Piscium (δ Psc).
The Red Planet sets in the west at 3:30 a.m. CST, about 3 hours, 10 minutes before sunrise.
For more about Mars during November, see this article.
Detailed note: In the evening forty-five minutes after sunset, the moon (1.8d, 4%) is 5.0° up in the southwest. As the sky darkens further, Saturn is about 24° up in the south-southwest, 3.6° to the upper left of bright Jupiter. Saturn and Jupiter make a triangle with 56 Sgr. Saturn is 2.6° to the lower left of the star, while Jupiter is 2.4° to the lower right. The Jovian Giant is 3.3° to the upper left of 50 Sgr. Farther east, Mars is 30.0° in altitude in the east-southeast. The Red Planet is 3.1° to the lower right of ε Psc and 3.0° below δ Psc.
Read more about the planets during November.
This morning’s planets.
July 7, 2021: In five evenings, Venus passes Mars for the first conjunction in a triple conjunction that carries into 2022. Look for them low in the west-northwest after sunset.
July 2021: Elusive Mercury appears in the morning sky in the east-northeast during morning twilight. The best mornings to see Mercury are July 7 and July 8, when the moon is nearby.
July 6, 2021: In less than a week, brilliant Venus passes Mars in the west-northwestern sky after sunset. This evening the two planets are 3.8° apart. Venus is over 18° to the lower right of the star Regulus.
July 1 – July 7, 2021, the waning crescent appears in the eastern sky. Early in the viewing period, the moon is among the dim stars of Pisces. As the week progresses, the moon wanes and moves farther eastward, appearing near Taurus.
July 5, 2021: Our planet Earth reaches its farthest point in its yearly trek around the sun. Our seasons are not related to Earth’s distance from the sun. Coincidentally, the moon is at its farthest point from Earth today.