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18 March 2021: Morning Planets, Evening Moon, Mars, Taurus

Jupiter and Saturn, December 3, 2020. Great Conjunction occurs December 21, 2020. Close planet alignment.

2020, December 3: In the southwest, dimmer Saturn is 1.9° to the upper left of the Jupiter.

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2021, March 18: Jupiter are low in the southeast before sunrise in front of the starry background of Capricornus.

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.

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 18: After sunset, the moon is to the lower left of the Pleiades, while Mars is in conjunction with Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau).

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 18: In this binocular view, Mars makes a tiny triangle with Upsilon Tauri (υ Tau) and 72 Tauri (72 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.

2021, December 29: Moon Nears Scorpion, Venus Departs

December 29, 2021: The morning crescent moon approaches Scorpius and Mars.  In the evening sky, four evening planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are lined up in the southwest.  Venus is rapidly leaving the evening sky.

2021, December 28:  Venus Slips, Mercury Hops

December 28, 2021:  Brilliant Venus is quickly slipping from the evening sky.  Mercury appears beneath Venus after sunset.  This duo is joined by Jupiter and Saturn.  In the morning, Mars is near Antares and the moon near Spica.

2021, December 27:  Mars – Antares Conjunction

December 27, 2021:  The Red Planet Mars passes Antares this morning before sunrise.  At the same hour, the moon is near Spica.  The three bright planets – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the evening sky.

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