2021, March 20: Vernal Equinox, Morning Planets

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2021, March 20: Forty-five minutes before sunrise Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeast. They are 10.4° apart.

March 20, 2021: The Vernal Equinox occurs at 4:37 a.m. CDT.  The sun’s light is most directed at the equator.  During the next six months, sunlight is more direct in the earth’s northern hemisphere.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:54 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:03 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

The Vernal Equinox occurs at 4:37 a.m. CDT.  The sun reaches the celestial coordinates 0° longitude, 0° latitude.

If you notice the sunrise and sunset times, daylight is already 9 minutes longer than half of a day.

The sun’s light is most direct at the equator.  At this hemisphere-dividing line, the sun passes overhead at noon.  Shadows are shortest.  They do not disappear.  One could seek refuge from the sun’s intensity under a tree or the awning of a porch.

After today, the sun’s daily intensity is directed farther northward with lengthening daylight until June 20.

Before sunrise, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky.  About 45 minutes before sunrise.  Saturn is about 11° up in the southeast.  Jupiter – about 7° above the east-southeast horizon – is 10.4° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder. 

Detailed Note: The sun is at 0° of ecliptic longitude at 4:37 a.m. CDT, signaling the beginning of astronomical spring (Vernal Equinox) in the northern hemisphere. During mid-twilight, about 45 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky.  Saturn is 11° up in the southeast.  Jupiter is 10.4° of ecliptic longitude east of Saturn.  The Giant Planet is nearly 7° up in the east-southeast, 3.0° to the lower left of ι Cap, while Saturn is 3.7° to the upper right of θ Cap. An hour after sunset, the moon (7.6d, 44%) – between the horns of Taurus – is over two-thirds of the way up in the southwest.  It is 3.0° to the upper right of Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau, m = 2.0) and 4.8° to the lower right of Elnath (“the one butting with horns,” β Tau, m =1.6).  Mars is over 14° to the lower right of the thick lunar crescent. This evening, Mars passes 6.9° to the upper right of Aldebaran.  The planet is nearly 10° to the upper left of Alcyone and the Pleiades. Among the dimmer stars, the Red Planet is 2.6° to the lower right of τ Tau. 

Read more about the planets during March 2021.

2021, April 25: Mercury-Venus Conjunction, Mars, Bright Moon

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.

2021, April 24: Evening Star, Bright Mercury, Venus, Mars, Gibbous Moon

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.

2021, April 24: Lunar Occultation, Morning Planets, Jupiter Saturn

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.

2021, April 23: Evening Star Venus, Mercury, Mars, Moon

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.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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