July 8, 2021: Evening Star Venus is 2.6° to the lower right of Mars this evening, four evenings before their conjunction. The star Regulus is to the upper left of the planetary pair.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:24 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:28 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Step outside about 45 minutes after sunset and find a clear horizon to the west-northwest. Brilliant Venus is low in the sky. It easily shines through the colorful hues of evening twilight.
Planet Mars is 2.6° to the upper left of Venus. In four evenings, Venus passes Mars in the sky for the first conjunction in a series of three meetings, known as a triple conjunction. The series carries through March 2022.
Use a binocular to locate the Red Planet. It is not as bright as it was earlier in the year. At this brightness of twilight, it is hiding in the western hues after sundown. The two planets easily fit into the same binocular field.
Venus and Mars easily fit into a binocular field. As the sky darkens further and until Venus sets 95 minutes after sunset, the Red Planet might be visible to the unaided eye.
After its conjunction with Mars, Venus moves eastward to pass Regulus on July 21.
Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is over 36° above the southern horizon and west of the meridian. Notice Fomalhaut (α PsA, m = 1.2), over 20° to the lower left of Jupiter and slightly east of the meridian. Jupiter is retrograding in Aquarius, 2.8° to the upper left of ι Aqr, 4.2° to the lower left of θ Aqr, and 4.0° to the lower right of σ Aqr. Saturn is 19.7° to the lower right of Jupiter and 2.2° to the lower right of θ Cap. The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in Capricornus. Fifteen minutes later, the moon (27.9d, 2%) is nearly 6° up in the east-northeast. Mercury (m = −0.1) is 4.4° to the right of the waning crescent moon. One hour after sunset, Venus is nearly 6° up in the west-northwest, 2.6° to the lower right of Mars. Their conjunction occurs in four evenings. Venus is over 15° to the lower right of Regulus (α Leo, m = 1.3). Saturn rises 80 minutes after sunset. Jupiter follows about 50 minutes later. As midnight approaches, Saturn is about 18° up in the southeast, while Jupiter is over 10° above the east-southeastern tree line.
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