by Jeffrey L. Hunt
The morning planet trio continues to put on its display of planetary motion. At the time of the image above, bright Jupiter and Saturn are west of south, while Mars is in the southeast.
Jupiter is 4.9° to the lower right of Saturn. Both planets are retrograding. This continues through September. Check each clear morning to see Jupiter separating from Saturn.
Retrograde motion occurs as our planet approaches and passes the outer planets. It is an illusion. As the planets rise in the east and set in the west, they appear to move westward compared to the starry background.
Then both planets begin moving eastward against the sidereal background, and Jupiter closes the gap in the Ringed Wonder. Jupiter passes Saturn on December 21, 2020, for what is known as a Great Conjunction. Such events occur every 20 years.
Meanwhile, Mars continues to march eastward compared to the starry background, as it continues to widen the gap to the giant planet pair. This morning the Red Planet is nearly 50° from Jupiter.
Beginning June 8, the moon joins the morning planets.
After its inferior conjunction on June 3, Venus moves into the morning sky later this month, joining this planetary trio.
Follow the planets in the sky during June.