2021, January 9: Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn, Evening Watch

Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury, January 9, 2021. Mercury joins Jupiter and Saturn 20 days after their great conjunction. Planets align.
2021: January 9: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southwest after sunset. Jupiter is 2.2° to the upper left of Saturn. Mercury is 2.6° to the lower left of Saturn.

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.


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2022, May 30-31:  Sky Watcher’s Alert!

May 30-31, 2022:  A fragmented comet may put on a display in the southwestern sky around midnight on this evening.   Earth may encounter debris from a comet informally known as SW3.

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Crescent Moon, Venus, and Aldebaran, July 17, 2020

2022, June 30: Planet Racetrack, Green Star

June 30, 2022: The gap between the four morning planets continues to widen.  In the evening sky a green star may lie among the stars of Scorpius that is in the south as twilight ends.

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An image like this shows that our galaxy is always "partly cloudy." Not unlike Earthly clouds that block parts of the sky (say on a starry night), tremendous clouds of gas and dust obscure the things that are beyond them.

2022, June 29:  Last Call, Mercury, Night Sky, Black Hole

2022, June 29: Sagittarius A star, the Milky Way’s suspected black hole, is in the south during the midnight hour.

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Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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