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.
July 6, 2021: In less than a week, brilliant Venus passes Mars in the west-northwestern sky after sunset. This evening the two planets are 3.8° apart. Venus is over 18° to the lower right of the star Regulus.
July 1 – July 7, 2021, the waning crescent appears in the eastern sky. Early in the viewing period, the moon is among the dim stars of Pisces. As the week progresses, the moon wanes and moves farther eastward, appearing near Taurus.
July 5, 2021: Our planet Earth reaches its farthest point in its yearly trek around the sun. Our seasons are not related to Earth’s distance from the sun. Coincidentally, the moon is at its farthest point from Earth today.
July 5, 2021: Venus continues to close in on Mars in the west-northwest after sunset. In a week Venus passes the Red Planet.
July 4, 2021: The Venus – Mars conjunction is eight days away. This evening Venus moves to within 5° of the Red Planet.