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2021, January 26: Evening Planet, Mars

The Pleiades star cluster.

The Pleiades star cluster. (U.S. Naval Observatory)

2021, January 26: Look for Mars high in the south after sunset. The planet is beginning its approach to the Pleiades star cluster.

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.

2021, October 25:  Caught Between the Horns

October 25, 2021: This morning the bright gibbous moon seems to be caught between the horns of Taurus.  Mercury is making its best morning appearance.  The planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky.

2021, October 24: Saturn Inches Toward Jupiter

October 24, 2021:  Saturn is at its closest to Jupiter as the Jovian Giant picks up eastward speed.  The morning moon and Mercury are visible before sunrise.  Brilliant Evening Star Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are in the sky after sunset.

The Pleiades star cluster.

2021, October 23: Morning Moon Near Pleiades

October 23, 2021:  This morning the bright moon is near the Pleiades star cluster.  Mercury is making its best morning appearance.  In the evening sky, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are easy to spot.

2021, October 22, Mercury’s Morning Best, Arcturus

October 22. 2021:  Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise.  It is putting on its best morning performance of the year.  Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.

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