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.
June 15, 2021: The moon is with the Sickle of Leo this evening. Step outside about an hour after sunset to find the crescent moon that is about 30% illuminated over one-third of the way up in the west.
July 12, 2021: Venus – Mars conjunction evening. Evening Star Venus passes 0.5° to the upper right of the Red Planet. The crescent moon is nearby. This is the first of three conjunctions of Venus and Mars – a triple conjunction.
July 1, 2021: Saturn and Mars are in opposite directions in the sky. Mars sets as Saturn rises. In about a week, the two planets are visible in the sky at the same time. This event signals that the planet parade is starting to reorganize. During July, three other planet – planet oppositions occur, leading up to a challenging view of the five bright planets during mid-August.
June 13, 2021: After sunset, look for the thin crescent moon near Mars. The lunar sliver is also to the upper left of the star Pollux.
June 11, 2021: During the early evening brilliant Evening Star Venus and the crescent moon appear together in the west-northwest after sunset. The pairing is the second closest during this appearance of Venus in the evening sky.