2021, December 27:  Mars – Antares Conjunction

December 27, 2021:  The Red Planet Mars passes Antares this morning before sunrise.  At the same hour, the moon is near Spica.  The three bright planets – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the evening sky.

2021, December 27: Mars passes 4.5° to the upper left of Antares.
Chart Caption – 2021, December 27: Mars passes 4.5° to the upper left of Antares.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:17 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:27 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

Marching eastward in Ophiuchus, Mars passes 4.5° to the upper left of Antares this morning.  The star’s name means the “Rival of Mars.”  The star and the planet are about the same color and brightness in the sky. 

Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Mars is over 10° up in the southeast. A binocular helps to locate the planet and the star. They fit into the same binocular field.

On stellar artwork, Antares marks the heart of the Scorpion.

Rust-covered Mars shines by reflected sunlight and Antares is a distant star; its color indicates its temperature.

Mars passes Antares again on December 8, 2023, but the pair is in bright morning twilight.

2021, December 27: Before sunrise, the crescent moon is 13.8° to the upper right of Spica.
Chart Caption – 2021, December 27: Before sunrise, the crescent moon is 13.8° to the upper right of Spica.

At this hour, the crescent moon is about 60° to the upper right of Mars.  The lunar crescent – 45% illuminated – is 13.8° to the upper right of Spica.

Evening Sky

2021, December 27: Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are in the southwest after sunset.
Chart Caption – 2021, December 27: Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are in the southwest after sunset.

The three bright planets are in the southwest after sunset.  Brilliant Venus is rapidly catching up to our planet, on its inner orbital path.  In just eleven days, the Evening Star passes between Earth and the sun.  This evening Venus is about 26 million miles away. Each evening it sets 4-6 minutes earlier.  This evening the planet sets 93 minutes after sunset.

Through a telescope, Venus shows an evening crescent phase that is only 5% illuminated.

Saturn is 16.7° to the upper left of Venus.

Bright Jupiter is higher in the southwest, 18.3° to the upper left of the Ringed Wonder.

Both giant planets are moving eastward compared to the stars, while Venus is retrograding along the plane of the solar system.

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