2020, September 24: Jupiter, Moon, Teapot

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.

Read more about the planets during September and October.


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Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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