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2021, March 20: Vernal Equinox, Morning Planets

The sun is a tylical star.

The sun (NASA)

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, 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.

2021, December 21:  Winter Solstice

December 21, 2021:  The winter solstice occurs at 9:59 a.m. CST.  Mars is in the morning sky along with a bright moon.  The planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – is in the southwestern sky after sunset.

2021, December 19-21:  Gemini Moon

December 19, 20, and 21, 2021:  The bright moon leading up to the winter solstice appears in the western sky before sunrise in front of Gemini.

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