2021, March 3: Morning Moon and a Claw, 3 Planets

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2021, March 3: One hour before sunrise, the gibbous moon is 6.7° to the upper right of Alcyone.

March 3, 2021: The bright moon is near Zubenelgenubi.  Three bright planets are visible before sunrise.

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.

About an hour before sunrise, the bright gibbous moon is about one-third of the way up in the south-southwestern sky.  It is 6.7° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi (“the southern claw”).  It was once viewed as part of Scorpius.  Zubeneschamali, “the northern claw,” is nearby. Today, the stars are mapped in the constellational Libra.

2021, March 3: Thirty minutes before sunrise, Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn are visible in the east-southeastern sky.

Three planets – Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn – are farther east.  Thirty minutes before sunrise, use a binocular to find them above the east-southeast horizon.  Jupiter is about 5° above the horizon.  Mercury is 1.2° to Jupiter’s upper right.  Saturn is 8.4° to the upper right of Jupiter.  Jupiter and Mercury are easily visible within a single binocular field.  Saturn is outside the Jupiter – Mercury field, and to the planet pair’s upper right.  Find Jupiter and Mercury and then move the binocular about half of a binocular field to the upper right of them.

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.

2021, July 6: Venus, Mars Final Approach

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.

2021, July 1- 7, Morning Moon

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.

2021, July 5: Earth at Aphelion

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.

2021, July 4: Venus Aims at Mars

July 4, 2021: The Venus – Mars conjunction is eight days away.  This evening Venus moves to within 5° of the Red Planet.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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