2021, July 24: Four Evening Planets, Moon


July 24, 2021: After sunset, Venus and Mars are in the western sky.  A little later during evening hours, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn in the southeast.

Chart Caption – 2021, July 24: Through a binocular, Venus is 3.7° to the upper left of Regulus and 6.6° to the upper left of Mars.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:37 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:17 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Brilliant Venus continues its climb into the evening sky.  About 45 minutes after sunset, Earth’s Twin planet is less than 10° above the western horizon.  The planet is easy to find poking through the colorful hues of evening twilight.

Mars and the star Regulus are to the lower right of Venus.  A binocular is needed to see them at this level of twilight.  This is the last evening that Mars and Venus easily fit into the same field of view through a binocular until February 2022.

Place Venus near the upper left edge of the field of view.  Regulus is near the center and Mars is to the lower right of Regulus, near the lower right edge of the field.

In the evening sky, Mars is moving toward its conjunction with the sun on October 7.  It continues to slowly sink into brighter twilight.

Mars passes Regulus on July 29, as Venus continues to speed away from the Red Planet and the star.

Chart Caption – 2021, July 24: Around midnight, the moon is to the lower left of Saturn and to the lower right of Jupiter.

Saturn and Jupiter are making their appearances in the southeastern sky as the evening continues.  The Ringed Wonder rises 25 minutes after sunset.  Jupiter follows about 50 minutes later.

This evening the moon rises a few minutes before Jupiter.

As midnight approaches in the Chicago area – and later for locales farther west in the time zone – the lunar orb is about 20° above the southeastern horizon.  Saturn is 7.3° to the upper right of the bright moon, while Jupiter is 15° to the moon’s left.

During the next few mornings, watch the moon pass the planet duo in the southwestern 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, the bright moon (14.4d, 100%) is 10.0° up in the southwest.  Saturn is 7.2° above the lunar orb.  A binocular is needed to see Saturn in the starfield.  This morning it is 3.3° to the lower right of θ Cap.  Bright Jupiter is 19.5° to the upper left of Saturn.  Retrograding in Aquarius, it is 1.7° above ι Aqr and 4.9° below θ Aqr.  With the bright moonlight, a binocular is needed to see the stars here as well.  Forty-five minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is over 8° above the western horizon.  It is 3.7° to the upper left of Regulus and 6.6° to the upper left of Mars.  The Red Planet is 3.1° to the lower right of Regulus.  This is likely the last evening the trio fits into the same binocular field.  Two hours after sunset, the moon (15.1d, 98%) is nearly 7° up in the southeast.  Saturn is 7.3° to the upper right of the lunar orb, while Jupiter is nearly 15° to the left of the moon.  As midnight approaches, the moon is nearly 20° up in the east.  Saturn is to the moon’s upper right and Jupiter is to the left.

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