Finest Three-Way Conjunction of 2021
What a treat! Venus, Mars, and the young Moon meet July 11–12 just after sunset. It’s the finest three-way conjunction of 2021. Venus and Mars will appear only a finger’s width apart and the slender crescent Moon points the way. See Bob Berman’s viewing tips.
Young Moon, Venus, and Mars Meet
In most of the United States, a romantic meeting of the three nearest worlds could be an arctic experience, and usually happens in icy conditions. Not this time. You needn’t be an incurable romantic to silently point out the low crescent Moon. She’s called Chandra in India, and that very word for “Moon” conjures romance all over that subcontinent.
On Sunday (July 11) and again Monday (July 12) evenings—anytime between 9 and 9:30 PM—a super-brilliant gem appears low in the western sky, floating next to that hair-thin crescent Moon. It’s nothing less than the ancient Goddess of Love herself, in person, Venus.
(Despite the beautiful name, Venus is the most unpleasant planet in the known universe. Its surface temperature never varies from 850 degrees, hotter than a wood stove. Learn more about Venus.)
Look for her about a half hour after sunset. It’ll be totally, absolutely riveting. And the story still doesn’t end there, because sharp-eyed observers or else cheaters who’ve brought along binoculars will see a much fainter orange star virtually touching Venus. This is Mars, completing the triumvirate of Earth’s three nearest companions.
Planet Venus will pass 1/2-degree north of Mars on Earth’s sky dome, or about one Moon-diameter.
All three, gathered closely together.
Viewing Tips for Conjunction
Look for a clear, open place where you can see straight to the western horizon without buildings, trees, or other structures blocking your view. A meadow, field, or the top of a hill would be ideal.
Face towards the west/northwest where the Sun just set. Be ready about 30 minutes (or less) after sunset on July 11. It’s perfect timing—not too late in the evening, whereas so many astronomy events are during the wee hours of the morning when it’s darkest, but also when many people are asleep.
But don’t be late! The planets sink below the horizon before nightfall in most of North America. See the Almanac’s Planet Rise and Set times.
Pro tip: The night sky objects are easiest to see once your eyes adjust, so give your eyes about 20 minutes.
- Look first for the slim, crescent Moon that’s only 10% illuminated. The waxing crescent will be more apparent as the days go by—and rise higher. See the Moon Phase Calendar.
- After the Moon, you’re bound to notice Venus first as she outshines Mars by about 200 times. Venus is the brightest planet or star in the sky, so hard to miss.
- But Mars is right there, snuggled just to Venus’s left. If you have binoculars, you’ll see both planets within the same field of view.
Wishing you clear skies for 2021’s finest conjunction!