2021, March 23: Three Bright Planets, Evening Moon

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2021, March 23: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise.
2021, March 23: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise.

March 23, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn continue to slowly climb into the morning sky. They are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise.  Brighter Jupiter is to the lower left of Saturn.  In the evening sky the bright gibbous moon is in Cancer to the lower left of the Gemini Twin Pollux.  Mars is in Taurus near Tau Tauri.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:48 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:07 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

Jupiter and Saturn continue their slow climb into the morning sky.  They are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise.  Forty-five minutes before sunup, Saturn is nearly 10° above the southeast horizon.  Brighter Jupiter, only 5.0° in altitude in the east-southeast, is nearly 11° to the lower left of Saturn.  Both are slowly moving eastward in their orbits compared to the background stars.  The gap between them continues to grow after their great conjunction over three months ago.

Evening Sky

2021, March 23: The bright gibbous moon is in Cancer this evening to the lower left of the Gemini Twin Pollux.
2021, March 23: The bright gibbous moon is in Cancer this evening to the lower left of the Gemini Twin Pollux.

As night falls, the bright moon – 74% illuminated – is high in the southern sky.  It is 9.0° to the lower left of Pollux.  The bright lunar orb is among the dim stars of Cancer.

Mars, marching eastward, is over halfway up in the west-southwest in front of the stars of Taurus. Tonight, it is to the upper right of the “V” of Taurus that is made by Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster.  The Red Planet is 1.0° to the lower right of Tau Tauri (τ Tau on the chart).

With tonight’s bright moon, a binocular may be needed to see the dimmer stars. Alternately, step into the shadow of a house or other structure to help block the moon’s light to see the dimmer stars in Taurus.

As Mars moves eastward it passes τ Tau and continues to move toward the horns of the Bull, Elnath and Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau).  The planet splits the gap between the stars next month.

Here’s more about Mars during 2021.

Read about Mars during March.

Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Saturn is nearly 10° above the southeastern horizon, nearly 11° to the upper right of Jupiter, 5.0° up in the east-southeast.  One hour after sunset, the moon (10.6d, 74%), is nearly 70° above the southeastern horizon.  It is 9.0° to the lower left of Pollux.  Farther west, Mars is 52.0° up in the west-southwest.  It is marching eastward through Taurus, 1.0° to the lower right of τ Tau.

Read more about the planets during March 2021.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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