July 10, 2021: Evening Star Venus approaches Mars for their conjunction it two evenings. At 45 minutes after sunset, look for brilliant Venus low in the west-northwest. Mars is 1.5° to the upper left of Venus. Use a binocular to view Mars with 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.
Today the sun is in the sky for 15 hours, 2 minutes. Tomorrow, daylight lasts 15 hours and its length is slowly decreasing. By month’s end, the sun loses about 30 minutes of travel time in the sky.
This evening, step outside about 45 minutes after sunset to look toward the west-northwest for brilliant Venus. It is easily visible shining through colorful twilight.
Venus is moving eastward along the ecliptic at about twice the speed of Mars and the brilliant planet is been chasing Mars since Venus made its appearance in the evening sky about two months ago.
While Venus is easy to see, Mars is hiding in twilight. A binocular is necessary to see the Red Planet, 1.5° to the upper left of the brilliant planet. If the natural horizon is visible, the thin crescent moon is over 16° to the lower right of Venus and only about 2° above the horizon.
This evening Venus sets 95 minutes after sunset. From the time of the first observation to Venus setting, the sky darkens enough to see Mars and Regulus without the optical assist from the binocular.
The star Regulus is over 13° to the upper left of Venus. That is about two binocular fields.
Regulus is the closest bright star to the plane of the solar system. Both planets are above the ecliptic as the make their way eastward compared to the starry background.
After the Venus – Mars conjunction, Venus passes Regulus on July 21.
Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is nearly 36° up in the south and noticeably west of the meridian. Retrograding in Aquarius, the Jovian Giant is 2.7° to the upper left of ι Aqr, 4.2° to the lower left of θ Aqr, and 4.1° to the lower right of σ Aqr. Saturn is 19.8° of ecliptic longitude west (to the lower right) of Jupiter. The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in Capricornus, 2.3° to the lower right of θ Cap. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury (m = −0.3) is nearly 6° up in the east-northeast. One hour after sunset, Venus, nearly 6° up in the west-northwest, is 1.5° to the lower right of Mars and 13.3° to the lower right of Regulus. Through a telescope, Venus exhibits an evening gibbous phase, 88% illuminated, that is 11.5” across. Saturn rises 73 minutes after sunset. Jupiter follows over 50 minutes later. As midnight approaches, Jupiter is over 10° up in the east-southeast, while Saturn is nearly 20° above the southeastern horizon.
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