July 9, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus and Mars are in the west-northwest after sunset. Use a binocular to find the Red Planet, 2.0° to the upper left of easily-observed Venus.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:25 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:27 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Note the sunrise and sunset times for Chicago. The length of day is slowly shortening. In two days, the length of daylight is 15 hours. By month’s end daylight loses over 30 more minutes. What is the length of daylight at your location today?
This evening, step outside about 45 minutes after sunset to look to the west-northwest.
Brilliant Venus is overtaking Mars. The planets are moving eastward along the plane of the solar system. Usually, Venus moves about twice the speed of Mars.
This evening Venus is 2.0° to the lower right of the Red Planet. In three 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.
In this brightness of the sky, Venus is easy to see through twilight’s hues. A binocular is needed to see Mars and the star Regulus. Venus and Mars easily fit into the same binocular field of view. Regulus is nearly two binocular fields to the upper left of Mars.
Mars is not as bright as it was earlier in the year. The Red Planet is farther away and consequently dimmer than when Earth was close to Mars.
On July 11 and July 12, the crescent moon joins the planets in the western sky after sunset.
After the Venus – Mars conjunction, Venus passes Regulus on July 21.
Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, Saturn is 26.0° up in the south-southwestern sky. It is retrograding in Capricornus, 2.2° to the lower right of θ Cap. Bright Jupiter is 19.7° to the upper left of Saturn, over 36° above the southern horizon. The Jovian Giant 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. As the sky brightens, look for Mercury (m = −0.2), about 6° above the east-northeast skyline. The moon is at its New moon phase at 8:17 p.m. CDT. One hour after sunset, Venus is about 6° up in the west-northwest, 2.0° to the lower right of Mars and 14.5° to the lower right of Regulus that is 12.0° up in the west. As midnight approaches, Saturn is nearly 20° up in the southeast, while Jupiter is over 10° up in the east-southeast.
Articles and Summaries
October 9, 2021: Look for brilliant Venus, crescent moon, and the head of Scorpius in the southwest after sunset. About every eight years, Venus and the moon appear near the head of the Scorpion after sunset. Look for them about 45 minutes after sunset.
October 1, 2021: Before sunrise, the lunar crescent is near the Beehive star cluster.
Newly released analysis from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows that the Arabia Terra region on Mars experienced powerful volcanic eruptions.
September 30, 2021: An hour before sunrise, the crescent moon is near the Gemini Twins.
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.