On September 24, the Moon visits the “Teapot” shape of Sagittarius with the moon nearby.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
During the early evening of September 24, look in the south for the gibbous moon that is 60% illuminated. Bright Jupiter is 4.2° to the upper left of the lunar orb. Dimmer Saturn is to Jupiter’s upper left.
Look carefully at the stars to the lower right of the gibbous moon. They are the main stars of the constellation Sagittarius. The stars resemble a kitchen teapot. The star Nunki, cataloged as Sigma Sagittarii (σ Sgr), is part of the Teapot’s handle. Use a binocular, if necessary, to see the shape.
Jupiter is moving eastward compared to the starry background. Saturn retrogrades, an illusion of moving westward that occurs when the faster moving Earth passes between the sun and the slower moving outer planets.
Next week, Saturn resumes its eastward motion as Jupiter continues to close the gap to the Ringed Wonder toward their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. 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.
Here’s where the moon is on the next evening.
July 29, 2021: The Jupiter – Mars opposition occurs this evening. The planets are 180° apart as viewed from our planet. Mars is setting as Jupiter rises.
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.
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.
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.
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.