March 17, 2021: Morning Planets, Evening Crescent, Mars

2021, March 17: Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeaster sky 45 minutes before sunrise.
2021, March 17: Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky 45 minutes before sunrise.

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:59 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:00 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

Jupiter and Saturn shine from low in the southeastern sky before sunrise.  Look for Saturn over 10° above the southeast horizon.  Jupiter – only 6° above the east-southeast horizon – is 10.1° to the lower left of Saturn.  Jupiter is brighter, but more difficult to see because it is near the horizon.

Each day this planet pair is higher in the sky, but farther apart.  Jupiter is slowly stepping away from Saturn after their great conjunction on the winter solstice.

Evening Sky

2021, March 17: The moon approaches Mars in the western sky after sunset.
2021, March 17: The moon approaches Mars in the western sky after sunset.

The crescent moon, 18% illuminated, is approaching Mars.  One hour after sunset, the lunar slice is over one-third of the way up in the sky above the west-southwest horizon.

The moon is in front of the stars of Aries, 16.0° to the upper left of Hamal, “the full-grown lamb.”  The star is brightest in the constellation.

Mars is higher in the sky above the moon.  It is to the upper right of the “V” of Taurus that is made by Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster.  Aldebaran is not part of the cluster. Mars is to the upper left of the Pleiades.

2021, March 17: In this simulated binocular view, Mars makes a tiny triangle with Kappa Tauri (κ Tau) and Upsilon Tauri (υ Tau).
2021, March 17: In this simulated binocular view, Mars makes a tiny triangle with Kappa Tauri (κ Tau) and Upsilon Tauri (υ Tau).

This evening Mars makes a tiny triangle with Kappa Tauri (κ Tau on the chart) and Upsilon Tauri (υ Tau). Use a binocular to see Mars with its starry background.

Here’s more about Mars during 2021.

Read about Mars during March.

Detailed Note: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Saturn is over 10° up in the southeast.  Jupiter – 6.0° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon – is 10.1° to the lower left of Saturn.  One hour after sunset, the moon (4.6d, 18%) is over one-third of the way up in the sky above the west-southwest horizon.  In Aries, the crescent is 16.0° to the upper left of Hamal (“the full-grown lamb,” α Ari, m = 2.0).  Again, this evening, the crescent makes a nice contrast with the earthshine on the moon’s nighttime portion of the Earth-facing part of the lunar sphere. Mars is higher in the sky to the upper right of the “V” of Taurus.  This evening it makes a tiny triangle with κ Tau and υ Tau, 0.9° to the upper right of κ Tau and 0.7° to the lower right of υ Tau.

Read more about the planets during March 2021.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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