After the October 2020 Mars opposition, Earth pulls away from Mars. The Red Planet appears to move farther eastward compared to the starry background, and dims as the distance to the planet grows.
Find the planet high in the southeastern sky after sunset. It is distinctly rusty in color and brighter than all the stars in its immediate surroundings.
During the month, Mars moves from the dim star field of Pisces into Aries.
It passes dim Uranus during January. A binocular is needed to see this planet’s brightness is near the limit of unaided human vision. It is a blue-green “star.” Some magnification with a telescope reveals the round, planet shape. This is referred to as seeing the “planet’s disk.”
Three brighter stars, Hamal, Beta Arietis (β Ari on the chart), and Gamma Arietis (γ Ari), are above the path of the planets. The planet’s movement is easily observed compared to those stars.
To follow Mars daily progress, use a binocular to track its spot in the sky compared to the distant stars.
Here are some events to track:
- January 1: In Pisces, it is 1.1° to the lower left of Pi Piscium (π Psc) and 2.5° above Omicron Piscium (ο Psc).
- January 5: Over 57° in altitude in the south-southeast, the planet is 7.3° to the lower right of Gamma Arietis (γ Ari). The Red Planet is 7.3° to the lower right of Uranus (m = 5.7).
- January 11: Mars is 5.0° to the upper right of dim Uranus. Use a binocular to see the planets.
- January 14: Mars passes 6.0° to the lower left of γ Ari. On this evening Mars is 3.7° to the upper right of Uranus.
- January 15: Mars passes 7.3° to the lower left of β Ari. The Mars – Uranus gap is 2.8°. Mars is to the upper right of the dimmer planet. Mars begins to approach 19 Arietis (19 Ari). The planet is 2.2° to the lower right of the star.
- January 20: With the moon 7.3° to the lower right, Mars passes 1.6° above Uranus.
- January 23: Mars passes 8.7° to the lower left of Hamal, the constellation’s bright star.
- January 25: Mars approaches Omicron Arietis (ο Ari), Sigma Arietis (σ Ari), and Pi Arietis (π Ari).
- January 31: The month ends with Mars in Aries, 2.1° to the upper right of ο Ari, 3.7° to the upper right of σ Ari, and 2.8° to the right of π Ari.
Here is the summary for Mars during 2021.
August 9, 2021: After the New moon yesterday morning, the crescent moon appears in the evening sky during bright twilight near Mars.
August 3, 2021: Four planets appear in the evening sky. Brilliant Evening Star Venus and dim Mars are in the west after sunset. A little later during the evening, Saturn and Jupiter are easily visible in the southeast.
August 2, 2021: Saturn is at opposition with the sun. Earth is between the sun and the planet.
August 1 – 6, 2021: The morning moon wanes toward its New moon phase in the eastern sky. It passes the bright stars that are prominent in the evening sky during the winter season in the northern hemisphere. The stars have been making their first appearances in the morning sky during summer. At this hour, Procyon and bright Sirius are the last stellar duo to appear.
August 6, 2021: In the northern hemisphere, summer’s midpoint occurs today at 6:27 p.m. CDT.