January 9, 2021: Mercury makes a pretty triangle with Jupiter and Saturn, nearly 3 weeks after the giant planets’ great conjunction.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:39 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Speedy Mercury is with Jupiter and Saturn low in the west-southwest at about 30 minutes after sunset. Because of the bright twilight, use a binocular to first locate bright Jupiter. Saturn is 2.2° to the lower right of the Jovian Giant. Mercury, brighter than Saturn and dimmer than Jupiter is 1.6° to the lower left of Saturn and 2.8° below Jupiter.
The planets are setting early; this makes the window small to observe them before they disappear below the horizon.
Detailed Note: Thirty minutes after sunset, Jupiter, about 7° up in the west-southwest is 2.2° to the upper left of Saturn. Use a binocular to locate them, especially Saturn. Mercury (m = −0.9) makes a pretty triangle with Jupiter and Saturn. It is 1.6° to the lower left of Saturn and 2.8° below Jupiter. As the sky darkens further, Mars is nearly 60° up in the south-southeast, 4.3° to the upper left of ο Psc and 6.4° below γ Ari. Read about Mars during January.
Read more about the planets during January.
February 19-21: The bright moon moves through the constellation Taurus. Use a binocular to see the starry background with the moon.
February 18, 2021: The moon, waxing toward its First Quarter moon phase, is high in the southwest after sunset. Planet Mars is 3.8° to the upper right of the moon. Mars is parading eastward compared to the starry background in eastern Aries as it heads toward the Taurus border.
February 6, 2021: Before sunrise, look east-southeast for the waning crescent moon. It is 4.5° to the upper left of Antares – the rival of Mars.