Bright Jupiter and dimmer Saturn appear in the southern sky after sunset on September 30, 2020.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
As the sky darkens, look low in the southern sky for bright Jupiter and dimmer Saturn. They look like overly bright stars. Saturn is to Jupiter’s upper left.
Both planets are gradually moving eastward compared to the starry background. While they rise in the east and set in the west, they gradually move eastward compared to the stars.
Three stars are identified in the photo above: Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr on the photo), 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr) and 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).
The planets are moving in front of the stars of eastern Sagittarius. These dimmer stars are identified by Greek letters and numbers, along with the genitive form of Sagittarius, and its shorter form (Sgr).
During the next several weeks, watch the planets move eastward – to the left on the photo. A binocular is helpful to see the planets with the stars. Jupiter moves away from π Sgr and toward dim 50 Sgr. Eventually, Jupiter passes that star as well and begins to close in on Saturn for their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.
For the next several weeks, Saturn slowly moves away from 56 Sgr.
The motion is slow-moving and the anticipatory approach of Jupiter toward Saturn has been occurring since they emerged from the sun’s glare in the morning sky last winter.
Jupiter is now closing in on the Ringed Wonder.
Read more about the planets during October.
Mercury begins to join Morning Star Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The moon is in the morning sky in the west. Three evening planets are found after sunset, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mars is in the east-southeast and the Jupiter – Saturn pair is in the south-southwest after sunset. Today is a heliocentric conjunction for Jupiter and Saturn.
Brilliant Venus continues to shine brightly in the morning sky. Venus is “that bright star” in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Venus steps eastward in Virgo as Mercury makes its best morning appearance for the year. The crescent moon joins the bright inner planets on November 12 and November 13.
Speedy Mercury joins Morning Star Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The first rock from the sun is entering the morning sky for its best appearance of the year. In the evening, Mars shines in the eastern sky, while in the south-southwest Jupiter edges toward its Great Conjunction with Saturn on December 21, 2020.