2020, August 12: Jupiter, Saturn Evening Stars

 

Jupiter and Saturn, August 12, 2020
2020, August 12: Saturn is 8.1° to the lower left of the Giant Planet. In the starfield, Jupiter is 1.4° to the right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr), while Saturn is 2.4° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).

Bright Jupiter and Saturn shine from the southeastern sky after sunset during August 2020.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Bright Jupiter and Saturn shine from the southeastern sky during late evening twilight this evening. 

Saturn is 8.1° to the lower left of the Giant Planet. The gap between them continues to widen during the next month. In the starfield, Jupiter is 1.4° to the right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr on the photo) and 2.9° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr), while Saturn is 2.4° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).

This planetary pair passed opposition last month and the planets continue to retrograde in eastern Sagittarius.

Retrograde motion is a illusion that occurs when our faster moving Earth catches up to the outer planets, passes them, and moves away.

Jupiter retrogrades until September 12, and Saturn ends its westward illusive apparent motion on September 28.

Then Jupiter approaches Saturn for a once-in-a-generation Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.  This is the closest conjunction since 1623.

As the evening progresses, Mars appears in the eastern sky as the midnight hour approaches.

Venus is above the horizon by 3 a.m.  Tomorrow morning (August 13), Venus moves into Gemini.

Venus and the crescent moon make a beautiful grouping on August 15.  Get your camera ready!

The window is quickly closing to see the four brightest planets in the sky together.  Venus is moving eastward compared to the starry background, while Jupiter is moving westward. Venus rises as Jupiter sets on August 25. Saturn follows in early September.  If you’re an early riser, what is the last date you see all four together?  You’ll need clear horizons in the east-northeast and toward the southwest.

The first sightings of Sirius by the unaided eye occur this week about 45 minutes before sunrise.

Here is a daily summary about the planets during August.

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