During February 2021, Mars parades eastward in the dim starfield of Aries and moves into Taurus, nearing a March conjunction with the Pleiades star cluster.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
As it moves eastward the Earth-Mars distance increases and the planet fades in brightness, although it is brighter than the stars in its region of the sky.
Find the planet high in the south-southwestern sky as night falls. It is noticeably rosy in color to the unaided eye. This is amplified by a binocular.
Early in the month it sets at nearly 1 a.m., but by month’s end it sets around midnight.
Here are some highlights of the month:
- February 1: One hour after sunset, Mars (m = 0.5) – 90° east of the sun – is nearly 65° in altitude in the south-southwest. It is parading eastward in a dim starfield of Aries. Use a binocular to spot the planet 2.3° to the lower right of Pi Arietis (π Ari, m = 5.2), 3.3° to the upper right of Sigma Arietis (σ Ari, m = 5.5) and 1.9° to the upper right of Omicron Arietis (ο Ari, m = 5.8). The stellar trio makes a dim triangle.
- February 5: Mars, high in the south-southwest, passes dim Pi Arietis.
- February 15: Mars, over two-thirds of the way up in the southwest, is less than 10° to the lower right of the Pleiades star cluster.
- February 16: The planet is 0.4° to the lower left of Delta Arietis (δ Ari).
- February 18: One hour after sunset, the moon – 43% illuminated – d is two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the south-southwest horizon and 3.8° to the lower left of Mars. In the starfield Mars is 1.4° to the upper left of δ Ari and 1.5° to the lower left of Zeta Arietis (ζ Ari). Mars is 8.2° to the lower right of the Pleiades star cluster.
- February 20: Mars starts the evening high in the south-southwest, 1.2° to the lower right of Tau Arietis (τ Ari). The planet is 7.1° to the lower right of the Pleaides.
- February 23: Mars moves into Taurus, 5.6° to the lower right of the Pleiades.
- February 25: As night falls, Mars is two-thirds of the way up in the southwest, less than 5° below the Pleiades.
- February 28: Mars is 3.3° to the lower left of the Pleaides star cluster.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
With many other bright stars in the evening sky, Mars is nearly unnoticeable as it moves its way eastward toward the Pleaides star cluster.
Read more about the planets during February.
May 28, 2021: This evening Mercury passes brilliant Venus for the second of three conjunctions during this evening apparition of the second planet from the sun. Use a binocular about 45 minutes after sunset to see the speedy planet 0.4° to the lower left of Venus. This is the closest visible conjunction until 2033.
May 24, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. In the evening sky, brilliant Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars line up along the solar system’s plane. The bright moon is in the southeast near Zubenelgenubi, “the southern claw.”
May 23, 2021: Five bright planets parade across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn are visible before sunrise in the southeastern sky. The star Fomalhaut is becoming visible below bright Jupiter and near the horizon. After sundown, Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars are in the western sky. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the nighttime hours.
May 22, 2021: Five planets parade across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Evening Star Venus, Mercury and Mars are in the western sky after sunset. A bright moon is in the southeastern sky.
May 21, 2021: Three bright planets are dancing in the western sky after sundown. Evening Star Venus is entering the sky for a months-long residency after its solar conjunction two months ago. Mercury is heading for a conjunction with Venus after its best evening appearance of the year. Mars continues its eastward march in Gemini, but time is running out on its appearance as it approaches brighter evening twilight and a conjunction with Venus.