Jupiter’s retrograde ends and the Giant Planet begins to close on Saturn for the Great Conjunction of 2020.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the south as the sky darkens from early evening twilight.
Jupiter is now moving eastward compared to the starry background, while Saturn retrogrades – moves westward compared to the stars – until month’s end.
This evening Jupiter is to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr on the photo above) and to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).
Saturn is 8.1° to the left of bright Jupiter. It is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).
The gap between Jupiter and Saturn begins to close until the Great Conjunction of 2020, when Jupiter seems to pass very close to Saturn in the evening sky. This is the closest conjunction since the Jupiter – Saturn conjunction of 1623. Great Conjunctions occur every 19.6 years, but this is the closest for nearly 400 years.
Before Jupiter passes Saturn in our sky, Jupiter edges past Saturn as viewed on the solar system’s scale in what is known as a heliocentric conjunction. This occurs on November 2.
Continue to look for Jupiter and Saturn each evening. During the next several weeks, watch Jupiter close the gap to Saturn.
Here is a daily summary about the planets during September.
2020, December 8-14: Jupiter begins its final approach to Saturn as a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.
December 8, 2020: The Great Conjunction countdown: 13 days. Jupiter continues to close in on Saturn. Rusty Mars is in the eastern sky. The bright moon is in the sky nearly all night.
December 8, 2020: The thick crescent moon is in the southern sky before sunrise. It is near the star Denebola, the Lion’s Tail. At that time, Venus is in the southeastern sky among the stars of Libra.