2021, August 22: Evening Star Venus Steps Through Virgo

August 22, 2021:  Brilliant Evening Star Venus continues to step through Virgo after sundown.  It is to the lower left of Spica and near Porrima and Zaniah.

2021, August 22: Through a binocular Mercury is 3.9° to the upper left of Mars.
Chart Caption – 2021, August 22: Through a binocular Mercury is 3.9° to the upper left of Mars.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:06 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:40 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

The five bright planets continue in the evening sky although Mars is very difficult to locate through a binocular about twenty-five minutes after sunset.  The Red Planet and brighter Mercury are still in the same binocular field.  Mars is 3.9° to the lower right of Mercury.

Until Mars reappears in the morning sky during November, we say “goodbye” to it in these daily descriptions.

Mercury is bright, but it continues to appear low in the western sky each evening until it disappears into brighter twilight after its greatest elongation next month.

2021, August 22: Brilliant Evening Star Venus is low in the west as night falls, among the stars of Virgo.
Chart Caption – 2021, August 22: Brilliant Evening Star Venus is low in the west as night falls, among the stars of Virgo.

Brilliant Evening Star Venus is easier to locate in the western sky about 45 minutes after sunset from the mid-northern latitudes.  At this time, it is about 8° up in the sky, shining through the colorful hues of evening twilight.

The planet rapidly moves eastward and each evening appears slightly more southward along the horizon. It is moving toward a September 5 conjunction with Spica – “the ear of corn.”

This evening, the planet is 16.2° to the lower right of Spica.  Use a binocular to see Venus 3.3° to the lower right of Porrima, also known as Gamma Virginis, and 3.1° to the left of Zaniah – “the corner.”

2021, August 22: Two hours after sunset, the moon is 12.2° to the lower left of Jupiter.
Chart Caption – 2021, August 22: Two hours after sunset, the moon is 12.2° to the lower left of Jupiter.

At this hour bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky.  Wait until about two hours after sunset to see the moon to the lower left of Jupiter.

This morning, the lunar orb reached its official Full moon phase, the third one during this summer season.  Normally, an astronomical season has three full moons.  The fourth full moon is this year’s Harvest Moon that occurs a few days before the autumnal equinox.  This third-of -four seasonal moons serves as another definition of a “blue moon,” although it is not as popular as the two full moons in the same month designation.

Jupiter and Saturn are retrograding in Capricornus, an illusion from our faster moving planet passing between the planets and the sun.  The gap between them is 18.1° this evening.  Watch Jupiter’s faster westward movement slightly close the cap during the next month.

Detailed Daily Note:One hour before sunrise, the bright moon (13.8d, 100%) is about 8° up in the west-southwest.  Jupiter is 4.2° to the upper right of the lunar orb.  The moon is at its Full (Sturgeon) moon phase at 7:02 a.m. CDT.  This is the third full moon of the season that has four.  So this is a “blue moon” according to one definition. Regulus in conjunction with the sun. Twenty-five minutes after sunset, Mercury is less than 4° up in the west, 3.9° to the upper left of Mars.  This is the last night we note the placement of Mars.  Typically, we would have said “good-bye” to the Red Planet a few weeks ago.  Because of its close conjunction with Mercury and the slim prospects of seeing the five naked eye planets, albeit with optical aid, we kept Mars in the notes. This evening the planet sets 41 minutes after sundown and we bid the planet a final “good-bye” until it passes its solar conjunction on October 7 and moves into the morning sky, rising at Nautical Twilight on November 15, 2021.  Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is about 8° up in the western sky.  Use a binocular to see it 3.1° to the left of Zaniah, 3.3° to the lower right of Porrima, and 16.2° to the lower right of Spica.  The “ear of corn” is less than 12° above the west-southwest horizon.  Farther eastward, Saturn is about 16° up in the southeast.  Jupiter, 18.1° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder, is nearly 9° above the east-southeast horizon.  Two hours after sunset, Saturn, over 24° up in the south-southeast, is 1.2° to the lower left of υ Cap.  Jupiter, 20° above the southeast horizon, is 12.2° to the upper right of the moon (14.5d, 99%).  Use a binocular to see Jupiter 2.3° to the upper right of ι Aqr, 0.8° to the lower right of μ Cap, and 3.3° to the upper left of Deneb Algedi.

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