July 7, 2021: In five evenings, Venus passes Mars for the first conjunction in a triple conjunction that carries into 2022. Look for them low in the west-northwest after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:23 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:28 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The brilliant planet Venus shines from the west-northwest after sunset. It shines through the vibrant colors of evening twilight.
Venus is approaching Mars for a conjunction on July 12.
This evening Venus is 3.2° to the lower right of Mars.
This conjunction is the first of three groupings of the planetary pair – a triple conjunction – that carries through March 2022.
The term is typically associated with the outer planets, when one planet passes a more distant world or a bright star three times. This can occur with Venus and Mercury as well.
Mercury has frequent triple conjunctions with Mars and with Venus.
A triple is named when the faster moving planet passes the slower moving planet as the first planet is moving eastward. The second conjunction occurs when the faster moving planet is retrograding, moving westward compared to the starry background. The third occurs when the first planet passes the second for the third time as the first planet moves eastward again after retrograde.
The second and third conjunctions occur after Mars passes on the far side of the sun during October and Venus moves between Earth and the sun during early 2022.
After its conjunction with Mars, Venus moves eastward to pass Regulus on July 21.
Venus and Mars easily fit into a binocular field. An optical assist is needed to spot the Red Planet. As the sky darkens further and until Venus sets 95 minutes after sunset, the Red Planet might be visible to the unaided eye.
Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, moon (26.9d, 6%) is nearly 10° up in the east-northeast. Mercury (m = 0.1) is 8.2° to the lower left of Aldebaran. Fifteen minutes later, the planet is higher in the sky, over 5° above the east-northeast. When the sky is darker, Saturn (m = 0.3) is over 25° above the south-southwest horizon. It is retrograding in Capricornus, 2.1° to the lower right of θ Cap. Bright Jupiter, retrograding in Aquarius, is 19.7° to the upper left of the Ringed Wonder. The Jovian Giant is 2.9° to the upper left of ι Aqr, 4.1° below θ Aqr, and 3.9° to the lower right of σ Aqr. One hour after sunset, Venus continues to close the gap to Mars. The brilliant planet is about 6° up in the west-northwest. Mars is 3.2° to the upper left of the overtaking planet.
Articles and Summaries
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!
October 26, 27, and 28, 2021: During the early morning hours, the bright gibbous moon appears in front of Gemini’s stars.
October 26, 2021: Mercury is at its greatest morning appearance for the year. Look low in the east-southeast before sunrise.
October 25, 2021: This morning the bright gibbous moon seems to be caught between the horns of Taurus. Mercury is making its best morning appearance. The planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky.
October 24, 2021: Saturn is at its closest to Jupiter as the Jovian Giant picks up eastward speed. The morning moon and Mercury are visible before sunrise. Brilliant Evening Star Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are in the sky after sunset.