2020, June 18: Crescent Moon, Venus, and Bright Outer Planets

2020, June 18: The crescent moon and brilliant Venus appear in the sky during twilight. The moon is 12° to the upper right of the Morning Star.

The crescent moon and Venus appear in the eastern sky, while Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter gleam in the southern sky before sunrise.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

One day before their spectacular grouping, Venus and the crescent moon – 26.8 days past its New phase and only 8% illuminated – shines from the eastern sky about 35 minutes before sunrise.  The lunar crescent is about 12° to the upper right of the brilliant planet. While easy to locate, find a clear eastern horizon to see the bright morning planet.

Venus is on a rapid, steep climb into the morning sky.  It rises about 4 minutes earlier each day.

Through a binocular or small telescope, Venus shows a tiny crescent with about the same illumination as the moon

Tomorrow the moon is only 1.0° from the planet.  This is the closest grouping during this morning appearance of Venus.

For more about Venus as a morning star during 2020, read this article.

On July 19, the five-naked eye planets (Mercury – Saturn) appear in the sky with the crescent moon.

2020, June 18: The three Bright Outer Planets – Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter – appear in the southern sky. Jupiter is 5.4° to the lower right of Saturn. Mars is farther east, over 58° from Jupiter.

Earlier this morning – an hour before sunrise – and farther westward, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter are in the southern sky.  Bright Jupiter is about one-third of the way up in the sky in the south-southwest.  Dimmer Saturn is 5.4° to the Giant Planet’s upper left.

Jupiter and Saturn are retrograding as Earth is nearing the planets.  On July 14, Earth passes between Jupiter and the sun (opposition).  Earth passes between Saturn and the sun six days later.  When near opposition, the planets seem to move westward compared to the starry background.  The planets retrograde and separate in the sky.  After they reverse their direction and move eastward again, Jupiter closes in and passes Saturn in a spectacular Great Conjunction during the early evening hours of 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.

Mars is marching eastward compared to the stars.  The planet is in the southeast, over 58° to the upper left of Jupiter.  The gap continues to open with Jupiter.  Mars is at opposition on October 13, 2020.

When a planet is at opposition, it rises at sunset, appears in the south during the midnight hours and sets in the west at sunrise.

Follow the planets in the sky during June.

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