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.
March 9, 2021: Mars marches eastward in Taurus. Find it high in the west-southwest after sunset.
March 9, 2021: The moon joins Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury in the southeastern sky before sunrise.
March 8, 2021: Mars continues its eastward march in Taurus. It is nearly between the Pleiades star cluster and Aldebaran, the constellation’s brightest star. Find it during the early evening, high in the west-southwestern sky.