2021, July 21: Venus – Regulus Conjunction


July 21, 2021:  Venus passes Regulus this evening in the western sky after sunset.

Chart Caption – 2021, July 21: The Venus – Regulus conjunction. Use a binocular to spot Venus, Regulus, and Mars.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Venus passes Regulus this evening.  The planet and star appear close together in our sky, but they are very far apart.  Light traveling from Venus reaches us nearly 11 minutes after it is reflected from the sun.  Regulus’ starlight left nearly 80 years ago.

At 45 minutes after sunset, Venus is less than 10° up in the west.  It is poking through the colorful layers of twilight.  The planet is slowly climbing into the western sky after its first appearance in the evening sky about two months ago.

Find a clear spot to see the see Venus.  A hilltop or elevated structure places you above terrestrial features that could block your view.

Use a binocular to find Regulus, Venus, and Mars.  The star and the Red Planet are not bright enough to shine through the bright hues of twilight without an optical assist.

Regulus is about 1.1° to the lower left of Venus.  Mars is nearly 5° to the lower right of Venus.

Tomorrow evening Venus is still relatively close, about 1.5° to the upper left of Regulus.

Mars closes in on the star and passes it n July 29.  The star and Mars are lower in the sky and more challenging to see.

In addition, this evening is the Venus – Jupiter opposition.  Venus is setting as Jupiter rises.  In a week both planets are in the sky at the same time.

The next conjunction of Venus and Regulus occurs on the morning of October 10, 2023.  Venus is 2.4° to the lower right of Regulus.  Adding to the view, a thin crescent moon (16% illuminated) is 3.6° to the upper left of Regulus.  The trio fits into the field of a binocular!

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