July 23, 2021: Four bright planets are visible during evening hours. Venus and Mars are in the western sky after sunset. A little later, the moon is near Saturn and Jupiter in the southeastern sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:36 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:18 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The planet dance continues in the western sky after sunset. Brilliant Evening Star Venus and Mars are low in the west after sunset.
Venus is easy to spot, low in the western sky, about 8° above the horizon. The planet is two evening past its conjunction with the star Regulus. Venus moves quickly eastward compare to the starry background.
Dimmer Mars lags behind Venus. The Red Planet is now near its dimmest. In a darker sky it would be easily visible without the assistance of a binocular. In this brighter twilight, the binocular is needed to see Regulus and Mars.
The trio is in a binocular’s field of view during this evening and the last night is likely tomorrow evening as Venus moves farther away from Regulus and Mars closes in for a conjunction with the star on July 29. After tomorrow evening, two of the objects, Venus – Regulus or Mars – Regulus, are in the starfield together. Venus and Mars will no longer appear in the same field of view until next year.
This evening, Venus is 2.5° to the upper left of Regulus and 6.1° to the upper left of Mars.
To find them, hold the binocular so that Venus is toward the upper left of the field of view. Regulus and Mars are visible to the lower right portion of the field.
Saturn and Jupiter are appearing low in the southeast during the night. On the chart above, Saturn, the bright Full (Buck) moon, and Jupiter are low in the southeast. Saturn is about 10.0° to the left of the moon. Jupiter is nearly 20° to the lower left of Saturn.
During the next few mornings, watch the moon pass the planet duo in the morning sky before sunrise.
Saturn is nearing its opposition on August 2. Jupiter follows 17 days later. At opposition time, the outer planet is nearest to Earth and at its brightest in our sky. It rises in the eastern sky at sunset and sets in the western sky at sunrise.
Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, Saturn (m = 0.2) is nearly 18° up in the southwest and 3.2° to the lower right of θ Cap. Retrograding in Capricornus, the Ringed Wonder is 19.6° to the lower right of Jupiter. The Jovian Giant, retrograding in Aquarius and 19.6° to the upper left of Saturn, is 1.8° to the upper left of ι Aqr and 4.8° below θ Aqr. Begin looking for Rigel (β Ori, m = 0.2) low in the east about 45 minutes before sunrise. It is making its first morning appearance. Forty-five minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is over 8° above the western horizon, 2.5° to the upper left of Regulus and 6.1° to the upper left of Mars. The trio still fits into a binocular’s field of view. One hour after sunset, the moon (14.0d, 100%) is about 6° up in the southeast. Saturn is 10.0° to the left of the lunar orb. The moon reaches its Full (Buck) moon phase at 9:37 p.m. CDT. As midnight approaches, the moon is nearly 22° up in the south-southeast. Saturn, nearly 25° up in the south-southeast, is to the upper left of the moon. Jupiter is to Saturn’s lower left, over 20° above the southeastern horizon.
Articles and Summaries
- Venus as an Evening Star
- Venus Evening Star (Summary)
- Mars during 2021 (Summary)
- July Planet Summary 2021 (Summary)
October 7, 2021: The lunar crescent returns to the evening sky for a short visit in the western sky after sunset. The bright planet pack – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible during the early evening.
Mars is at its solar conjunction on October 7, 2021. It begins a slow return into the morning sky. By year’s end it appears low in the southeastern sky with the moon.
October 6, 2021: The moon is at its New moon phase today. This evening look for the three bright planets after sunset.
October 5, 2021: Before sunrise, a very thin moon is visible in the eastern sky. The evening planet pack – Evening Star Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible at the same time after sundown.
October 29, 2021: Today is the date for equal daylight and equal darkness for about 42° north latitude. This is not to be confused with the autumnal equinox.