January 2, 2021: After their Great Conjunction, Jupiter is to the upper left of Saturn after sunset. Mars is high in the southeast moving eastward in Pisces. The moon seemingly rises late, but look in the east-northeast about 5 hours after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:32 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Jupiter continues to move away from Saturn after their Great Conjunction twelve days ago.
Forty-five minutes after sunset, Jupiter is less than 10° in altitude above the southwest horizon. It is 1.3° to the upper left of Saturn.
Because of the low altitude of Jupiter and Saturn, we made our “last call” for the two planets in yesterday’s note. The planets are still visible if you locate a clear horizon toward the southwest. In about a week Mercury joins the scene, so there’s more planetary motion to see!
The window to observe the two planets is quickly closing. Jupiter sets 98 minutes after sunset this evening. With a binocular begin looking for Jupiter as early as 30 minutes after sunset when the planetary duo is higher in the sky. The window lasts for about another 30 minutes.
If you have a clear southwest horizon, you might be able the track Jupiter to near the horizon.
Farther eastward, Mars continues its eastward parade in Pisces. Look for the planet about two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the southeast horizon. Use a binocular to spot the dim starfield behind it. It is 1.4° to the lower left of Pi Piscium (π Psc on the chart) and 2.5° to the upper left of Omicron Piscium (ο Psc).
About 5 hours after sunset, the moon is low in the east-northeast to the left of Regulus. (Five hours after sunset seems to be late, but with an early sunset time, this is approximately 9:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. depending on your location in your time zone. Check your local sources for the sunset time.)
Read about Mars during January.
Here is a summary of the planets’ activities during January 2021.
Detailed Note: In the evening, 45 minutes after sunset, Jupiter is over 8° in altitude in the southwest. The gap to Saturn is 1.3°. Jupiter is to the upper left of Saturn. Farther east as the sky darkens further, Mars is marching eastward in Pisces. It is nearly 60° up in the southeast. Use a binocular to spot it 1.4° to the lower left of π Psc and 2.5° to the upper left of ο Psc. Five hours after sunset (about 9:30 p.m. CST), the moon (19.5d, 83%) – 11° up in the east-northeast – is 4.6° to the left of Regulus.
November 3, 2021: Before sunrise speedy planet Mercury, the crescent moon, and the star Spica are grouped together. The trio does not appear this close together again until 2033.
October 31, 2021: There is no Halloween Full moon this year, and the phase is not close. The crescent moon is in the morning sky. Mercury is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. The planet pack – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – gleam in the evening sky.
October 29, 2021: Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the sun. It is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn. The crescent moon and Mercury are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!
October 26, 27, and 28, 2021: During the early morning hours, the bright gibbous moon appears in front of Gemini’s stars.