February 18, 2021: The moon, waxing toward its First Quarter moon phase, is high in the southwest after sunset. Planet Mars is 3.8° to the upper right of the moon. Mars is parading eastward compared to the starry background in eastern Aries as it heads toward the Taurus border.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:42 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:28 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The thick crescent moon is two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the southwest horizon as night falls. Mars, dimmer than it was at the beginning of the month, is 3.8° to the upper right of the moon.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Mars is parading eastward in Aries and moves into Taurus in five evenings. The planet is approaching the Pleiades star cluster. This evening it is 8.2° to the lower right of the cluster’s brightest star, Alcyone.
Notice that the star Aldebaran is nearly 20° to the upper left of the crescent moon.
Read about Mars during February.
Detailed Note: The moon is at apogee (251,299 miles) at 4:37 a.m. CST. One hour before sunrise, Leo is less than one-third of the way up in the west. Thirty minutes later, Saturn and Mercury (m = 1.2) are very low in the east-southeast. Their visibility improves each day, but seeing them is a challenging observation. Mercury is 5.1° to the upper left of Saturn. One hour after sunset, the moon (7.2d, 43%) is two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the southwest horizon and 3.8° to the lower left of Mars (m = 0.8). 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, m = 4.8). The Red Planet continues to close in on the Pleiades star cluster. The gap is 8.2° from Mars to Alcyone. Mars is to the lower right of the star cluster.
Read more about the planets during February.
- 2023, December 20: Morning Star, Evening Moon Nears JupiterDecember 20, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the southeast before daybreak. After nightfall the gibbous moon nears Jupiter in the southeast sky.
- 2023, December 19: A Scorpion Fumble, Moon MidwayDecember 19, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus appears below the Scorpion’s claws. After sundown, the moon is nearly midway from Saturn to Jupiter.
- 2023, December 18: Pinched VenusDecember 18, 2023: Look for Venus between the Scorpion’s claws in the southeast before sunrise. The thick crescent moon is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn.
- 2023, December 17: Celestial PairsDecember 17, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus passes Zubenelgenubi, a planet-star conjunction. After sundown, Saturn and crescent moon are paired, a planet-moon conjunction.
- 2023, December 16: Venus Clawed, Evening Crescent Nears SaturnDecember 16, 2023: Before daybreak, Venus is above the Scorpion’s southern claw. After nightfall, the crescent moon nears Saturn.