May 29, 2021: Three planets are in the evening sky. Brilliant Venus is low in the west-northwest after sunset. Speedy Mercury is leaving the sky after its best evening performance of the year. It is below Venus. Mars is higher in the western sky, in Gemini to the lower left of Pollux.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:20 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:17 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
One evening after their close conjunction, Mercury is 1.2° below Venus. Forty-five minutes after sunset, the brilliant planet is about 6° up in the west-northwest. Find a clear view of the horizon in that direction. A hillside or elevated structure can help with the observation.
Mercury’s brightness is fading quickly as it is rapidly departing the evening sky. Use a binocular to see the speedy planet beneath Venus.
In a few evenings the planet dims considerably and plunges into bright sunlight. It passes between Earth and Sun and moves into the morning sky during late June.
Note that the star Elnath is 5.4° to the upper right of Venus. The star is the northern horn of Taurus and means “the one butting with horns.”
Mars is higher in the sky, marching eastward in Gemini. Use the binocular to spot the starfield. The planet is 5.4° to the lower left of Pollux and 2.3° below Kappa Geminorum (κ Gem).
Articles and Summaries
- Venus as an Evening Star
- Venus Evening Star (Summary)
- Mercury during May 2021
- Mars during 2021 (Summary)
- Mars during May 2021
- Planets during May 2021
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the bright gibbous moon (17.6d, 88%) is over 20° up in the south. It is above the handle of the Teapot of Sagittarius, 3.6° to the upper left of Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr, m = 3.3). Farther eastward, Saturn is nearly one-third of the way up in the south-southeast. Saturn is retrograding in Capricornus, 0.6° to the lower right of θ Cap. It is moving westward compared to that stellar signpost. For the past few mornings, the gap between them is the same when rounded to a tenth of a degree. Jupiter, at nearly the same altitude as Saturn, is 17.9° to the left of Saturn. In the starfield, the Jovian Giant is 2.6° to the upper left of ι Aqr, 4.1° to the lower right of θ Aqr, and 4.3° to the upper right of σ Aqr. Three planets are visible after sunset, although dimming Mercury is rapidly leaving the evening sky. Thirty minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is over 8° above the west-northwest horizon. Mercury (m = 2.5) is 1.2° below Venus. At this time interval, use a binocular to see Mercury with Venus. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is about 6° above the horizon. Mercury is lower in the sky and a challenge to locate. Venus is 5.4° to the lower left of Elnath. Mars is higher in the sky, over 25° above the west horizon, in Gemini. Fifteen minutes later, Venus is over 3° up in the sky. In the starfield, Mars is 3.8° to the upper left of δ Gem, 2.3° below κ Gem, and 5.4° to the lower left of Pollux.
During 2021 into 2022, Venus passes Mars three times for a triple conjunction. The first occurs on July 12, 2021. The others occur during early 2022, followed by a close approach of the two planets.
July 6, 2021: This is the second bright planet – planet opposition this month. Venus and Saturn are in opposite directions from Earth. Venus sets about the time that Saturn rises. After this date, Venus and Saturn together are in the evening sky until early 2022.
June 19, 2021: The waxing moon appears with Spica in the southwestern sky during the early evening hours.
June 26 – June 30, 2021: The bright gibbous moon passes Jupiter and Saturn in the morning sky before sunrise. Observe that the moon is in a different spot each morning, farther east toward the impending sunrise.
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.