March 26, 2021: Venus is at superior conjunction today. Jupiter and Saturn appear higher in the sky each morning before sunrise in the southeastern sky. After sunset, the nearly-full moon is in the east-southeast sky in front of the stars of Leo. Mars is in the west-southwest, marching eastward in Taurus.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:43 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:10 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus is at its superior conjunction with the sun at 1:58 a.m. CDT, ending its morning apparition. Begin looking for the brilliant planet later next month in the evening sky.
This morning, Saturn is about 11° above the southeast horizon about an hour before sunrise. The planet appears higher as the sky brightens as sunrise approaches. Bright Jupiter is over 11° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder.
Use a binocular to spot the starfield near the planets. Saturn is 3.2° to the upper right of Theta Capricorni (θ Cap on the chart). Saturn is 4.2° to the lower left of Iota Capricorni (ι Cap).
The moon is approaching the full phase. This evening it is 96% illuminated. One hour after sunset, it is one third of the way up in the sky above the east-southeast horizon. While difficult to see the stars behind the lunar orb, it is over 11° to the upper right of Denebola, “the lion’s tail) and 4.9° to the lower right of Chertan, “the two small ribs.”
Farther west, Mars is over halfway up in the sky above the west-southwest horizon. It continues its eastward march through Taurus. Use a binocular in this bright moonlight to see it 1.3° above Tau Tauri (τ Tau on the chart).
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
Read about Mars during March.
Detailed Note: Venus is at its superior conjunction with the sun at 1:58 a.m. CDT. It begins a slow climb into the evening sky. The first evening appearance of the planet occurs approximately on April 21, give or take a day or two. Use a binocular to look for it about 20 minutes after sunset, low in the west-northwest. One hour before sunrise, Saturn is nearly 11° above the southeastern horizon, over 11° to the upper right of bright Jupiter that is about 6° up in the east-southeast. Use a binocular to see the planets against the starry background. Saturn is 3.2° to the upper right of θ Cap, while Jupiter is 4.2° to the lower left of ι Cap. One hour after sunset, Mars is over 50° up in the west-southwest, 1.3° above τ Tau. Farther east, the bright moon (13.6d, 96%) is over one-third of the way up in the sky above the east-southeastern horizon. Block out the moon’s glare to see Denebola (“the lion’s tail,” β Leo, m =2.1) over 11° to the lower left of the lunar orb and Chertan (“the two small ribs,” θ Leo, m = 3.3), 4.9° to the moon’s upper left.
Read more about the planets during March 2021.
October 9, 2021: Look for brilliant Venus, crescent moon, and the head of Scorpius in the southwest after sunset. About every eight years, Venus and the moon appear near the head of the Scorpion after sunset. Look for them about 45 minutes after sunset.
October 1, 2021: Before sunrise, the lunar crescent is near the Beehive star cluster.
Newly released analysis from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows that the Arabia Terra region on Mars experienced powerful volcanic eruptions.
September 30, 2021: An hour before sunrise, the crescent moon is near the Gemini Twins.
September 29, 2021: The thick crescent moon is in the southeast before sunrise, approaching the middle of Gemini. The evening planet pack is visible after sunset.