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.
March 18, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the southeastern sky as sunup approaches. Jupiter is the brighter planet, but it is low in the east-southeast. Saturn is to the Jovian Giant’s upper right. During the early evening, the waxing crescent moon is in the western sky near the Pleiades star cluster and below Mars. The Red Planet is moving eastward in Taurus.
March 17, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise. During the early evening the lunar crescent is about one-third of the way up in the sky to the upper left of Hamal, the brightest star in Aries. Mars is higher in the sky in Taurus. This evening it makes a pretty triangle with two dim stars.
March 16, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise. During the evening the lunar crescent displays earthshine, while Mars continues to march eastward through the starfields of Taurus.