March 3, 2021: Evening planet Mars is in Taurus and it nears a conjunction Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:22 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:44 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
In the evening sky, Mars is passing the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus. While this can be seen with the unaided eye, the best view is with a binocular. The field of view is demonstrated in the chart above. Mars is 2.6° to the lower left of Alcyone, the cluster’s brightest star.
Look for them high in the west-southwest starting about one hour after sunset. Mars and the surround stars set over 6 hours after sunset. There’s ample time to view them during the early evening, weather permitting.
Tomorrow evening is the Mars – Alcyone conjunction. The gap between them is slightly smaller.
As the day ends, find the gibbous moon very low in the east-southeastern sky.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Read about Mars during March.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (19.7d, 78%) is about a third of the way up in the south-southwestern sky. It is 6.7° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi (α Lib, m = 2.8). Fifteen minutes later, Saturn is nearly 7° above the east-southeastern horizon. As the sky brightens further, use a binocular to see Jupiter nearly 5° in altitude in the east-southeast with Mercury 1.2° to the Giant Planet’s upper right. One hour after sunset, Mars (m = 1.0) is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the sky in the west-southwest, 2.6° to the lower left of Alcyone. When rounded this evening’s gap is the same as what is observed tomorrow evening when Mars passes the star. As midnight approaches, the moon (20.4d, 70%) is very low in the east-southeastern sky.
Read more about the planets during March 2021.
March 18, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the southeastern sky as sunup approaches. Jupiter is the brighter planet, but it is low in the east-southeast. Saturn is to the Jovian Giant’s upper right. During the early evening, the waxing crescent moon is in the western sky near the Pleiades star cluster and below Mars. The Red Planet is moving eastward in Taurus.
March 17, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise. During the early evening the lunar crescent is about one-third of the way up in the sky to the upper left of Hamal, the brightest star in Aries. Mars is higher in the sky in Taurus. This evening it makes a pretty triangle with two dim stars.
March 16, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise. During the evening the lunar crescent displays earthshine, while Mars continues to march eastward through the starfields of Taurus.