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.
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.
During the early evening hours of winter, the stars that shine from the southern sky are a sampler of the sky’s brightest stars.
January 21, 2021: Several bright stars are in the morning sky. This morning look for Antares in the east-southeast. Mercury – near its greatest elongation – is in the west-southwest after sunset. Mars and the moon are near each other. Planet Uranus is near Mars.
January 20, 2021: Mercury is low in the west-southwest after sunset. The bright moon is to the lower right of Mars, while the Red Planet passes planet Uranus.