2021, March 24: Three Bright Planets, Bright Evening Moon

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2021, March 24: Before sunrise, bright Jupiter is nearly 11° to the lower left of Saturn.
2021, March 24: Before sunrise, bright Jupiter is nearly 11° to the lower left of Saturn.

March 24, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn continue to slowly climb into the morning sky.  Find them in the southeastern sky before sunrise.  The bright, gibbous moon is high in the southeastern sky, near Regulus.  As night falls the third bright planet, Mars, is in front of the starry background of Taurus.

March 24, 2021

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:47 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:08 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Use a binocular to observe them in the starfield.

Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Saturn is over 10° above the southeast horizon.  It is 3.3° to the upper right of the star Theta Capricorni (θ Cap on the chart).  Bright Jupiter is lower in the east-southeast, nearly 11° to the lower left of Saturn.  It is 3.8° to the lower left of Iota Capricorni (ι Cap).

Evening Sky

2021, March 24: After sunset, the gibbous moon is high in the southeast.
2021, March 24: After sunset, the gibbous moon is high in the southeast.

As the moon journeys toward its full phase, the sky is brighter each evening from its growing brightness.  This evening the moon is nearly 85% illuminated and it is high in the southeastern sky after sunset.  The lunar orb is among the dim stars of Cancer, and 15° to the upper right of Regulus, “the prince,” the brightest star in Leo.

2021, March 24: Mars is in the west-southwest after sunset, in front of the stars of Taurus.
2021, March 24: Mars is in the west-southwest after sunset, in front of the stars of Taurus.

Mars is farther west, over halfway up in the west-southwest after sunset.  The stars of Taurus make the backdrop for the Red Planet’s eastward march.  It is above the Hyades star cluster and Pleiades star cluster.  You may need a binocular to locate them in the bright moonlight.

In the starfield, Mars is 0.7° to the right of Tau Tauri (τ Tau on the chart).  Mars is moving toward the horns of the Bull, Elnath and Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau).  It moves between them next month.

Iota Tauri (ι Tau) is the next stellar signpost on Mars’ march through the constellation.  Make observations each clear evening to note that Mars is moving away from τ Tau and toward ι Tau.

Here’s more about Mars during 2021.

Read about Mars during March.

Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, Saturn is over 10° up in the southeast.  It is 3.3° to the upper right of θ Cap.  Jupiter – nearly 11° to the lower left of Saturn – is 3.8° to the lower left of ι Cap. The Jovian Giant is over 5° above the east-southeastern horizon.  Use a binocular to see the starry background with the planets.  In the evening, one hour after sunset, the bright gibbous moon (11.6d, 83%) is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the southeastern horizon.  In Cancer, it is 15° to the upper right of Regulus (“the prince,” α Leo, m = 1.3).  Farther west along the ecliptic, Mars is over 50° up in the west-southwest among the stars of Taurus, above the Hyades and Pleiades.  Use a binocular to spot it 0.7° to the right of τ Tau.

Read more about the planets during March 2021.

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