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2021, July 27: Four Evening Planets

The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Named Valles Marineris, the grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep.

The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Named Valles Marineris, the grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. (NASA)

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July 27, 2021:  Evening Star Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are in the evening sky.  Mars is nearing its conjunction with Regulus in two evenings.

Chart Caption – 2021, July 27: Through a binocular, Mars is 1.3° to the right of Regulus.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:40 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:14 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Two evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, Mars is 1.3° from the star this evening.  Both are low in the western sky after sunset.  Use a binocular to find them.

Mars is at its dimmest.  In a darker sky, it would be visible, but at this level of twilight an optical assist is needed.  Regulus is slightly brighter than Mars.

Begin looking 45 minutes after sunset from a spot that has a clear western horizon.  Brilliant Venus pokes through the colorful layers of evening twilight.  The Mars – Regulus duo is to the lower right of the brilliant planet.

Regulus is outside a binocular field of view that includes Venus.  Place Venus at the upper left portion of the view.  Move the binocular slightly to the lower right. Regulus enters the field.  Mars is 1.3° to the right of the star.

Saturn and Jupiter are nearing their oppositions with the sun.  At these times Earth is between an outer planet and the sun. At opposition, the planet rises in the eastern sky at sunset and sets in the western sky at sunup.  Saturn’s opposition is August 2.  This evening it rises 16 minutes after sunset.

Venus, Saturn, and Mars can be found in the sky in the same time until the Red Planet sets at 71 minutes after sunset.

Jupiter’s opposition occurs on August 19.  This evening it rises 70 minutes after sunset, about the time Mars sets.

Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (17.4d, 87%) is over 36° above the south-southwest horizon, nearly 17° to the upper left of Jupiter.  The Jovian Giant, nearly one-third of the way up in the south-southwest, is retrograding in Aquarius, 1.4° above ι Aqr.  Use a binocular to spot the dimmer stars with the planets this morning.  Saturn – retrograding in Capricornus – is 19.5° to the lower right of Jupiter.  The Ringed Wonder, 15.0° up in the southwest, is 3.5° to the lower right of θ Cap. Forty-five minutes after sunset, brilliant Venus is 8.3° above the western horizon.  Use a binocular to locate Mars and Regulus, 1.3° apart, over 7° to the lower right of Venus. The pair is less than 5° above the horizon.  The Mars – Regulus conjunction occurs in two evenings. Saturn rises 16 minutes after sunset.  It is nearly 5° up in the east-southeast at 45 minutes after sunset.  With a clear horizon, Venus, Mars and Saturn are visible simultaneously.  Mars sets at Nautical Twilight, 71 minutes after sunset, about the same time that Jupiter rises.  Venus sets 91 minutes after sunset.  As midnight approaches, the bright moon (18.1d, 81%) is nearly 10° up in the east-southeast.  Farther westward along the ecliptic, Jupiter is over 20° above the southeastern tree line, nearly 30° to the upper right of the moon.  Saturn, slightly higher than Jupiter, is over 25° up in the south-southeast.

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