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.
morning sky before sunrise. Observe that the moon is in a different spot each morning, farther east toward the impending sunrise.
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.