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
October 22. 2021: Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise. It is putting on its best morning performance of the year. Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.
October 21-November 1, 2021: Brilliant Venus steps through Ophiuchus to the upper left of the star Antares in the southwest after sunset . Afterward, the planet steps farther eastward.
October 21, 2021: The bright moon is low in the west about an hour before sunrise. Mercury is in the east at about the same altitude as Arcturus. Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter shine from the evening sky.
December 18, 2021: This is the anticipated launch date of the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most sophisticated space telescope view the universe.
October 20, 2021: Mercury is brightening in the morning sky. Brilliant Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky. The bright moon starts the evening low in the eastern sky.