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
September 29, 2021: The thick crescent moon is in the southeast before sunrise, approaching the middle of Gemini. The evening planet pack is visible after sunset.
September 28, 2021: This morning the moon, as it approaches its Last Quarter phase, is high in the south at the Gemini – Taurus border. The evening planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – brightly shine after sunset.
September 27, 2021: Before sunrise this morning, the bright moon seems caught between the horns of Taurus, Elnath and Zeta Tauri. The planet pack, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, are visible after sundown.
September 26, 2021: This morning a bright moon is between the Pleaides and Hyades star clusters.
September 25, 2021: The bright morning moon approaches the Pleiades star cluster and Aldebaran. In the evening sky, brilliant Evening Star Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to spot.