2020, October 4: Jupiter, Saturn Evening Planets

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, October 4, 2020.
Bright Jupiter is 7.1° to Saturn’s lower right. In the starfield, Saturn is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr), while Jupiter is 2.6° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 2.1° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).

Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the south during the early evening hours of October.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southern sky as the sky darkens after sunset during early October.

Both planets are slowly moving eastward in front of the stars of eastern Sagittarius, before their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.  Such groupings occur once every 19.6 years.

For more about the Great Conjunction, read our feature article. This is the closest Jupiter – Saturn conjunction since 1623.

In a month (November 2, 2020), the two planets have a heliocentric conjunction.  As viewed from the sun, the two planets are lined up, but they are still far apart as seen from the skies of Earth.

Jupiter is 7.1° to the lower right of Saturn.

On the image above, three stars are identified, Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr on the photo), 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr) and 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  Use a binocular to observe the planets slowly move compared to the starfield.  Jupiter moves away from π Sgr and toward 50 Sgr.  Saturn slowly inches eastward (to the left on the photo) compared to 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.

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