2020, September 13: Bright Jupiter Begins to Close on Saturn

2020, September 13: Saturn is 8.1° to the left of Jupiter. In the starfield, Jupiter is 2.1° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 2.9° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr). Saturn is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).

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.

2021, July 27: Four Evening Planets

July 27, 2021:  Evening Star Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are in the evening sky.  Mars is nearing its conjunction with Regulus in two evenings.

2021, July 26: Evening Sky, Mars Closes In

July 26, 2021:  Four bright planets are in the evening sky.  Mars closes in on Regulus for their conjunction in three evenings.  Brilliant Evening Star Venus appears to the upper left of the impending Mars – Regulus conjunction.  Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky after sunset.

2021, July 25: Evening Sky, Mars on Final Approach

July 25, 2021:  Four evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, find Mars in the western sky to the lower right of Venus.  As the calendar day ends, look for the moon below bright Jupiter.

2021, July 24: Four Evening Planets, Moon

July 24, 2021: After sunset, Venus and Mars are in the western sky.  A little later during evening hours, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn in the southeast.

Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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