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.
Mars is at its solar conjunction on October 7, 2021. It begins a slow return into the morning sky. By year’s end it appears low in the southeastern sky with the moon.
October 6, 2021: The moon is at its New moon phase today. This evening look for the three bright planets after sunset.
October 5, 2021: Before sunrise, a very thin moon is visible in the eastern sky. The evening planet pack – Evening Star Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible at the same time after sundown.
October 29, 2021: Today is the date for equal daylight and equal darkness for about 42° north latitude. This is not to be confused with the autumnal equinox.
October 4, 2021: Before sunrise, the razor-thin lunar crescent is low in the eastern sky.