July 5, 2021: Venus continues to close in on Mars in the west-northwest after sunset. In a week Venus passes the Red Planet.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Here’s what to look for: About 45 minutes after sunset, find a clear horizon toward the west-northwest. Brilliant Venus is low in the sky, about 8° up in the sky. It is shining through the colorful hues of evening twilight.
Mars is 4.4° to the upper left of the brilliant planet. The Red Planet is at its dimmest brightness. Use a binocular to assist in viewing the pair together. They easily fit into the same binocular field. Place Venus to the lower right of the view. Mars is to the upper left portion of the binocular’s field.
As twilight continues Venus appears low and sky darkens more. Try to find Mars before Venus sets nearly 80 minutes after sunset.
Venus moves eastward compared to the stars about twice as fast as Mars.
The star Regulus is over 19° to the upper left of Venus.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the crescent moon (24.9d, 19%) is over 20° up in the east and nearly 10° to the right of the Pleiades. Aldebaran is nearly 18° to the lower left of the lunar slice. Farther west, Jupiter is over 36° up in the south and west of the meridian. It is retrograding in Aquarius, 3.0° to the upper left of ι Aqr, 4.1° below θ Aqr, and 3.8° to the lower right of σ Aqr. Saturn is 19.7° of ecliptic longitude west (to the lower right) of Jupiter. It continues to retrograde in Capricornus, 2.0° to the lower right of θ Cap. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury (m = 0.3) is nearly 5° up in the east-northeast. The moon is at apogee at 9:47 a.m. CDT (251,846.9 miles). Earth is at aphelion (1.0167 Astronomical Units) at 5:27 p.m. CDT. One hour after sunset, Venus is nearly 6° up in the west-northwest. Through a telescope, the planet is 89% illuminated – an evening gibbous phase – and 11.4” across. Mars is 5.0° of ecliptic longitude east (to the upper left) of Venus. By 11 p.m. CDT, Saturn is nearly 10° up in the east-southeast. As midnight approaches, Jupiter is nearly 9° above the east-southeast horizon.
Articles and Summaries
- 2023, December 26: Cold Moon, Venus, Jupiter, SaturnDecember 26, 2023: The Cold Moon is visible during the nighttime hours. Venus shines before sunrise while Jupiter and Saturn are visible after sundown.
- 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.