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.
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).
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.
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.
January 3, 2022: The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus. As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest. Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.
December 30, 2021: The morning crescent moon seems to be captured in the Scorpion’s pincers to the upper right of Mars. Four Evening Planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the southwest after sundown.
December 28, 2021: The Great Andromeda Galaxy is nearly overhead at the end of the evening twilight.