2021, July 22: Western Sky Square Dance


July 22, 2021:  The planetary square dance continues in the western sky after sunset with Evening Star Venus, Mars, and Regulus.

Chart Caption – 2021, July 22: Through a binocular, Venus is 1.5° to the upper left of Regulus, Mars is 5.5° to the lower right of Venus.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:35 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:19 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

After last night’s conjunction with Regulus, brilliant Evening Star Venus dances away from the star as Mars steps eastward towards it.  The Mars – Regulus conjunction is a week away.

While low in the western sky after sunset, Venus and Mars continue their eastward motion along the plane of the solar system.

Venus is slowly climbing into the evening sky after its first appearance over two months ago.  Mars is on its way toward a solar conjunction on October 7.

Mars is never bright when it appears near Venus from the skies of Earth.  On these occasions, the Red Planet is far from Earth, appearing much dimmer than when it is near our planet.

Step outside about 45 minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is low in the western sky, shining through the colors of evening twilight.  At this time Mars and Regulus are too dim to see without an optical assist from a binocular.

The trio easily fits into the same binocular field.  Put Venus in the upper left part of the field.  Regulus is to the lower right of the brilliant planet, while Mars is to the lower right portion of the field of view.

While Venus and Mars are low in the western sky, Saturn and Jupiter are making their appearances in the evening sky.  By 70 minutes after sunset, look for Saturn low in the east-southeast and Venus in the west-northwest.

Jupiter rises less than 10 minutes after Venus sets.

As the calendar day ends, Jupiter and Saturn are about 20° up in the southeastern sky.

Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is 32.0° up in the south-southwest.  Retrograding in Aquarius, the Jovian Giant is 1.8° to the upper left of ι Aqr and 4.8° below θ Aqr.  Saturn, nearly 19° up in the southwest and retrograding in Capricornus, is 19.6° to the lower right of Jupiter and 3,1° to the lower right of θ Cap. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is over 8° up in the west and 1.5° to the upper left of Regulus.  Mars, over 5° up in the west-northwest, is 4.3° to the lower right of the star and 5.5° to the lower right of the brilliant planet.  This trio is visible in the same binocular field. Fifteen minutes later, the bright moon (13.0d, 99%), nearly 12° up in the southeast, is near the handle of the Teapot of Sagittarius.  Use a binocular to see Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr, m = 3.3), 2.2° to the right of the moon.  At this hour Saturn is nearly 5° up in the east-southeast. Saturn rises 31 minutes after sunset, while Venus sets 61 minutes later. About 70 minutes after sunset, can you see Saturn in the east-southeast and Venus low in the west-northwest? Jupiter rises less than 10 minutes before Venus sets.  As midnight approaches, the moon is over 20° up in the south.  Saturn is over 24° above the south-southeast horizon, while Jupiter is to the Ring Wonder’s lower left, nearly 20° up in the southeast.

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