During May 2021, Mars marches across the starfields of Gemini. The planet is visible in the western sky after sunset. Early in the month, Mars is near the feet of Castor. Mars moves through the constellation diagonally from lower right to upper left. It ends the month passing Pollux.
By Jeffrey L. Hunt
After its close opposition to Earth during October 2020, Mars has been slowly moving eastward through the constellations. As Earth, moving faster on an inner orbit, moves away from Mars, the Red Planet continues to dim in our sky, yet it is brighter than most of the stars in the western sky.
Mars is slowly moving toward the sun from our view. The Red Planet is at its solar conjunction on October 7.
Meanwhile the planet starts the evening over one-third of the way up in the west below Castor and Pollux. The stellar pair is of nearly equal brightness and relatively close together. Mars is brighter than the Twins and lower in the sky.
Each night the planet is in a different place in the starfield. A binocular is not necessary, but it helps to locate the dimmer stellar background.
On the evening of May 15, the crescent moon is near Mars.
In the notes that follow, look for the planet in the western sky an hour after sunset.
- May 2: Nearly 35° up in the west, Mars passes 2.2° to the upper right of Tejat Posterior, “the heel,” (μ Gem on the chart above).
- May 9: Over one-third of the way up in the west, Mars passes 0.6° to the lower left of Mebsuta (ε Gem, m = 3.0).
- May 15: Less than 30° in altitude in the west, Mars is 2.2° to the upper left of the moon (4.3 days after the New moon phase, 16% illuminated).
- May 16: Nearly 29° up in the west, Mars is to right of a line from Castor to Alhena, “the brand-mark,” (γ Gem). The planet is 10.6° to the lower left of Castor and 9.5° to the upper right of Alhena.
- May 17: (1.7, 4.4”, 2.15AU, 226m) About 28° up in the west, Mars is to the left of a line that extends from Castor and Alhena. Mars is 10.3° to the lower left of Castor and 9.8° to the upper right of Alhena.
- May 22: Nearly 26° in altitude in the western sky, Mars is between Pollux and Alhena. Mars is 7.5° below Pollux and 11.8° above Alhena.
- May 23: About 25° up in the west, Mars passes 1.5° to the upper right of Wasat, “the middle of the sky,” (δ Gem).
- May 24: Mars is about 25° up in the west. It passes 4.3° below Iota Geminorum (ι Gem).
- May 28: Mars – less than 25° altitude in the west – passes 3.8° to the lower left of Upsilon Geminorum (υ Gem).
- May 31: Over 20° up in the west-northwest, Mars passes 5.3° to the lower left of Pollux.
Read more about the planets during May 2021.
Here’s more about Mars during 2021.
- 2023, December 25: Telescope First Light, Bright PlanetsDecember 25, 2023: For sky watchers with new telescopes, here’s what to look at before dawn or after sunset.
- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Heliacal RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 21: Winter Solstice, Great Conjunction Plus 3 YearsDecember 21, 2023: Winter begins in the northern hemisphere. Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the evening sky three years after their Great Conjunction.