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.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 21: Winter Solstice, Great Conjunction Plus 3 YearsDecember 21, 2023: Winter begins in the northern hemisphere. Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the evening sky three years after their Great Conjunction.
- 2023, December 20: Morning Star, Evening Moon Nears JupiterDecember 20, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the southeast before daybreak. After nightfall the gibbous moon nears Jupiter in the southeast sky.
- 2023, December 19: A Scorpion Fumble, Moon MidwayDecember 19, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus appears below the Scorpion’s claws. After sundown, the moon is nearly midway from Saturn to Jupiter.