Venus moves into the morning sky with Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The crescent moon adds to the view.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
This morning the crescent moon – 25.0 days past the New phase and 22% illuminated – is low in the east, midway from Mars to Venus. It is heading toward Friday’s (June 19) close grouping with Venus, now emerging into the morning sky.
Find a clear horizon to see Venus low in the east-northeast.
For more about Venus as a morning star during 2020, see this article. Through a binocular Venus shows a thin crescent shape. This morning Venus is over 36° to the lower left of the moon.
On July 19, the five-naked eye planets (Mercury – Saturn) appear in the sky with the crescent moon.
This morning the moon is 37° to the lower left of Mars. The Red Planet is among the faint stars of Aquarius.
Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter arch across the southern sky. Mars is in the southeast, with Saturn and bright Jupiter in the south-southwest. Mars is over 57° from Jupiter and the gap continues to grow as Mars marches eastward compared to the starry background.
Meanwhile, Jupiter and Saturn continue to retrograde, move westward compared to the starry background. This illusion is from Earth overtaking and passing the outer planets. With a binocular watch the planets move westward compared to the stars. This morning Jupiter is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii – labelled on some star charts and the image above as 56 Sgr. Saturn is 2.1° to the lower right of Sigma Capricorni, σ Cap.
As Jupiter and Saturn retrograde, they also separate. This morning they are 5.3° apart. As they move westward against the starry background, the gap between Jupiter and Saturn increases.
Earth passes between the sun and Jupiter (opposition) on July 14, followed by Saturn six days later. At opposition the planets rise in the southeast at sunset, appear in the south at midnight, and set in the west at sunrise. They are in opposite directions from the sun.
Jupiter and Saturn continue to retrograde until September. After the planets begin their direct motion, Jupiter over takes and catches Saturn in a Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. Such events occur every 19.6 years, about once every generation. This conjunction is the closest of the two planets since 1623.
Follow the planets in the sky during June.