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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
April 25, 2021: Mercury passes Evening Star Venus this evening after sunset. Look low in the western sky about 20 minutes after sunset. Mars is marching eastward in Gemini, near the star cluster Messier 35. The bright moon is near Spica.
April 25, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is in front of the stars of Aquarius, while Saturn’s starry background is Capricornus.
April 24, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are low in the west-northwest during evening twilight. The bright moon is in the southeast in Virgo. Mars moves into Gemini as it approaches the star cluster Messier 35.
April 24, 2021: The bright gibbous moon is near a star in Virgo during the early morning. From parts of the Western Hemisphere, the moon covers the star. Before sunrise, bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.
April 23, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are found very low in the west-northwest after sunset. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the early evening. Mars is moving toward the star cluster Messier 35.