November 14, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus, Bright Jupiter, and Saturn are visible in the southern evening sky. The planets appear closer in the sky each evening as a planet pack.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:39 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:31 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Three bright planets – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible in the southern sky after sunset.
Brilliant Venus is visible in the southwest as night falls. It is stepping eastward in front of the stars of Sagittarius. The planet sets about a minute later each evening during the next week. This evening it sets over 2 hours, 30 minutes after sunset and appears in a darker sky after the end of evening twilight.
Venus is moving eastward at about 1° each evening. It is slowly closing the gap to Saturn. This evening the gap is less than 30° from Saturn. In a week, the separation is about 24°.
It seems as though as a Venus-Saturn conjunction is imminent, but Venus’ evening appearance is about to stall as the planet begins to close in on our world. Venus passes between Earth and Sun during early January.
During the next week, Venus moves about 5 million miles closer to Earth.
Venus’ maximum setting time interval after sundown occurs on November 26. From that evening until its inferior conjunction, the planet sets earlier, only one-to-two minutes each evening at first. By the end of next month, the planet sets five-to-six minutes earlier each night, seemingly in a free fall.
Saturn and bright Jupiter are farther east of Venus. They are slowly moving eastward in front of Capricornus. After their retrograde motions ended last month, the planets seem to be inching very slowly eastward. During the next week Saturn only moves about 0.4°.
It is to the lower left of Upsilon Capricorni (υ Cap on the chart).
Jupiter is in front of the stars in eastern Capricornus. Watch it pass Deneb Algedi – “the kid’s tail.” In comparison to slower moving Saturn, Jupiter moves 0.6° to the east during the next week.
With the bright moon that is east of Jupiter this evening, use a binocular to find the starry background with the planets. Saturn’s starfield is dimmer. Without the moon’s glare, those stars are a challenge to see in urban and suburban backyards.
Later in the week (November 19), the moon slips into Earth’s shadow for a near-total lunar eclipse. Set your clocks for an early wakeup to see it!
March 3, 2022: Brilliant Venus and Mars approach their third conjunction in a series. The crescent moon returns to the evening’s western sky.Keep reading