2021, March 30: Bright Moon, 3 Planets

2021, March 30: Before sunrise, the moon is in the southwest, nearly 10° to the upper left of Spica.
2021, March 30: Before sunrise, the moon is in the southwest, nearly 10° to the upper left of Spica.

March 30, 2021: The bright moon is in the southwest before sunrise, to the upper left of Spica.  Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky.  After sunset, Mars is in the west-southwest in front of Taurus.  The gibbous moon is low in the southeast, near Zubenelgenubi, four hours after sunset.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:36 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:14 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

The moon reaches perigee, closest point to earth, at 1:16 a.m. CDT when it is nearly 224,000 miles away from Earth.

The bright gibbous moon is over 20° up in the sky above the southwest horizon.  This morning it is nearly 10° to the upper left of Spica.

Farther eastward, Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky.  Saturn is nearly 12° in altitude, while brighter Jupiter is 11.6° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder.

Evening Sky

One hour after sunset, Mars is over halfway up in the west.  It is above the “V” of Taurus that is made by Aldebaran, the constellation’s brightest star, and the Hyades star cluster.  Mars is approaching the horns of Taurus, dotted by Elnath and Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart).  Use a binocular to see the starfield with the planet.  The Red Planet is 3.5° to the upper left of Tau Tauri (τ Tau) and 2.9° to the upper right of Iota Tauri (ι Tau).

Four hours after sunset. the gibbous moon is about 10° up in the east-southeast.  It is 1.6° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi, “the southern claw.”

Here’s more about Mars during 2021.

Read about Mars during March.

Detailed Note: The moon is at perigee at 1:16 a.m. CDT (223,918.9 miles). One hour before sunrise, the gibbous moon (17.0d, 96%) is over 20° above the southwestern horizon, 9.7° to the upper left of Spica. Farther eastward, Saturn is nearly 12° up in the southeast with Jupiter (m = −2.1) 11.6° east of the Ringed Wonder.  In the starfield, Saturn is 2.8° to the upper right of θ Cap, while Jupiter is 5.0° to the lower right of ι Cap. One hour after sunset, Mars is nearly 50° up in the southwest, above the “V” of Taurus that is made by Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster.  Use a binocular to spot the planet 3.5° to the upper left of τ Tau, 2.9° to the upper right of ι Tau, and 7.9° below Elnath.  Four hours after sunset (11:15 p.m. CDT), the moon (17.8d, 91%) is over 10° in altitude above the east-southeastern horizon.  The lunar orb is 1.6° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi (“the southern claw,” α Lib, m = 2.8).

Read more about the planets during March 2021.

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