During the year, most the activity of the bright planets occurs in the evening sky. Mercury makes three evening appearances. During the first, it passes Jupiter and Saturn after the Great Conjunction. Venus appears in the western, although it sets before the end of twilight until later in the year. The brilliant planet has conjunctions with Mercury and Mars.
Several groupings occur with the moon and they are indicated on the chart.
Take note of the grouping of moon with the moon and planets in the western sky during June and July.
A challenging attempt to see five planets and the moon occurs on August 18. Mercury appears in a difficult-to-observe apparition and has a conjunction with Mars. Venus is higher in the sky while Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky. The moon is present as well.
Mars leaves the evening sky later during the summer. The year ends with four planets – Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn in western sky.
The chart above shows setting of the naked-eye planets, moon, and bright stars near the ecliptic for 2021. The graphs display the rising of these celestial bodies compared to sunrise and sunset for time intervals up to five hours before the sun’s appearance. The three phases of twilight are displayed as well. On the setting chart, activity occurs in the western sky, except for the rising curves (circles) of Jupiter and Saturn.
It should be noted that when two objects set at the same time intervals after sunset (same clock time), they are not necessarily near each other. It merely means that they rise or set at the same time interval after sunset. Since the charts feature objects’ activities near the ecliptic, they are likely to be up to 10° apart.
The charts are calculated from data by the U.S. Naval Observatory, for Chicago, Illinois.
October 22. 2021: Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise. It is putting on its best morning performance of the year. Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.
October 21-November 1, 2021: Brilliant Venus steps through Ophiuchus to the upper left of the star Antares in the southwest after sunset . Afterward, the planet steps farther eastward.
October 21, 2021: The bright moon is low in the west about an hour before sunrise. Mercury is in the east at about the same altitude as Arcturus. Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter shine from the evening sky.
December 18, 2021: This is the anticipated launch date of the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most sophisticated space telescope view the universe.
October 20, 2021: Mercury is brightening in the morning sky. Brilliant Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky. The bright moon starts the evening low in the eastern sky.