How valuable is astronomy to mankind

Shooting stars, solar eclipses, planets & Co Sun, Moon, Venus and Mars 2021 - the astronomical annual forecast

Far from the sun, close to the sun

On January 2nd at 2:50 p.m. (CET) the earth will be in perihelion. That means it will be closest to the sun this year. This is due to the elliptical orbit of the earth. It will then be approximately 147.1 million kilometers from the sun.

Still, we have winter. The reason: the inclination of the earth. The northern hemisphere is averse to the sun. It is different on July 6th at 0.27 a.m. Then the earth is at the point furthest from the sun, the aphelion. The northern hemisphere then tilts towards the sun. There are 152.1 million kilometers between the celestial bodies.

Venus disappears in January

In the first week of January you can see Venus "just before sunrise in the morning sky. Then it disappears and reappears in the evening from May. However, it is relatively low on the horizon for the rest of the year and is not easy to observe," explains Liefke.

Overall, the astronomical year 2021 is rather poor.

Carolin Liefke

Mars: In the Eye of Space and Astronomy?

So observing Venus in 2021 will not be easy. What about Mars? After all, three space travel nations are on their way there and will probably reach it in February. These include the USA with its Mars2020 mission, the People's Republic of China with its Tianwen-1 space probe and the United Arab Emirates with its Hope mission.

A Mars mission is only worthwhile approximately every two years, since then the distance between Earth and the red planet is the smallest. So Mars is at least not too far from Earth. Indeed, the chances of observing Mars are not bad.

Mars will remain with us for the first half of the year, moving further and further west and into the evening sky. But it reappears in the morning sky in late autumn.

Carolin Liefke

Observing planets: but when?

On the other hand, it becomes more difficult with the inner planet Mercury, which is generally difficult to observe for laypeople. This is because "it can only be seen shortly after sunset or just before sunrise. At the end of January it is close to Jupiter and Saturn in the evening, and for all three you need a clear view of the horizon to the west-southwest," the astronomer describes.

The best visibility is in mid-May in the evening, when Venus is also nearby. The last week of October is also cheap, but then in the morning. At the turn of the year 2021/22, Mercury will reappear in the evening sky together with Jupiter and Saturn.

Carolin Liefke

In addition, Jupiter and Saturn continue to stay close to each other. In December you could admire their great conjunction, which only happens every 20 years. The two gas giants "disappear from our field of vision for the first time at the beginning of the year. In spring they reappear in the morning sky and are best seen in late summer."