January 26, 2021: Visible high in the south after sunset, Mars is in Aries heading for an early March conjunction with the Pleiades star cluster.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:08 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:59 p.m. CST. (Note that sunset is approaching 5 p.m. CST) Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Mars continues to fade in brightness after its closest approach to Earth during October 2020. Earth is moving away from the planet, dimming as the distance between the planets grows.
Find the Red Planet high in the south about an hour after sunset. It is in the constellation Aries to the lower left of Hamal (the “full-grown lamb”), the pattern’s brightest star.
Mars is about 20° to the lower right of the Pleiades star cluster.
The cluster does not have any bright stars, but the six or seven stars together tend to catch your eye, when you look into the sky.
Mars closes in and passes the planet during early March.
Read about Mars during January.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali are approaching the meridian. Sunrise is approaching 5 p.m. CST. The sun has been setting before 5 p.m. since the second half of October. Thirty minutes after sunset, Mercury (m = −0.3) is about 11° up in the west-southwest. The moon is in the eastern sky. As the sky darkens further, find it 8.8° to the right of Pollux. Mars is about 64° up in the south, 3.4° to the upper left of 19 Ari and 4.2° to the right of ο Ari.
Read more about the planets during January.
July 6, 2021: In less than a week, brilliant Venus passes Mars in the west-northwestern sky after sunset. This evening the two planets are 3.8° apart. Venus is over 18° to the lower right of the star Regulus.
July 1 – July 7, 2021, the waning crescent appears in the eastern sky. Early in the viewing period, the moon is among the dim stars of Pisces. As the week progresses, the moon wanes and moves farther eastward, appearing near Taurus.
July 5, 2021: Our planet Earth reaches its farthest point in its yearly trek around the sun. Our seasons are not related to Earth’s distance from the sun. Coincidentally, the moon is at its farthest point from Earth today.
July 5, 2021: Venus continues to close in on Mars in the west-northwest after sunset. In a week Venus passes the Red Planet.
July 4, 2021: The Venus – Mars conjunction is eight days away. This evening Venus moves to within 5° of the Red Planet.