2021, January 10: Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn, Group Closely

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2021: January 10: After sunset, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury fit into a tight circle. Mercury is 1.6° to the lower left of Saturn and 2.8° below Jupiter.

January 10, 2021:  Mercury makes a pretty triangle with Jupiter and Saturn, nearly 3 weeks after the giant planets’ great conjunction.  This close grouping is of three planets is unusual.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:17 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:40 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.

This is the closest grouping since Mercury, Venus, and Mars clustered together on May 21, 2011.  The three planets fit within a circle that is 2°23’ in diameter.

Mercury joins Venus and Jupiter in 34 days (Feb 13) in a wider grouping (4°36’).  This grouping occurs when the planets are merely 10° from the sun.

From this date we wait until April 20, 2026 to see Mercury, Mars, and Saturn clustered in a 1° 40’ circle.

This evening the planets are setting early; this makes the window small to observe them before they disappear below the horizon.

Jupiter sets only 68 minutes after sunset.  To see this tight grouping star looking 30 minutes after sunset for about the next 15 minutes.

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. The three planets fit within a small circle (2°23’) This is the tightest grouping since Mercury, Venus, and Mars clustered together (2°8’) on May 21, 2011. Mercury joins Venus and Jupiter in 34 days (Feb 13) in a wider grouping (4°36’), although this grouping occurs a mere 10° west of the sun. From this date we wait until April 20, 2026 to see Mercury, Mars, and Saturn clustered in a 1° 40’ circle. Read about Mars during January.

Read more about the planets during January.

2021, April 25: Mercury-Venus Conjunction, Mars, Bright Moon

April 25, 2021: Mercury passes Evening Star Venus this evening after sunset.  Look low in the western sky about 20 minutes after sunset.  Mars is marching eastward in Gemini, near the star cluster Messier 35.  The bright moon is near Spica.

2021, April 24: Evening Star, Bright Mercury, Venus, Mars, Gibbous Moon

April 24, 2021:  Brilliant Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are entering the evening sky.  They are low in the west-northwest during evening twilight.  The bright moon is in the southeast in Virgo.  Mars moves into Gemini as it approaches the star cluster Messier 35.

2021, April 24: Lunar Occultation, Morning Planets, Jupiter Saturn

April 24, 2021:  The bright gibbous moon is near a star in Virgo during the early morning.  From parts of the Western Hemisphere, the moon covers the star.  Before sunrise, bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.

2021, April 23: Evening Star Venus, Mercury, Mars, Moon

April 23, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury are entering the evening sky.  They are found very low in the west-northwest after sunset.  The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the early evening.  Mars is moving toward the star cluster Messier 35.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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