Astronomy

2020, October 23: Last Call for Venus and Mars in Morning Sky

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2020, October 23: Venus shines from the eastern sky before sunrise. The planet is 3.2° to the lower right of Nu Virginis (ν Vir) and 3.0° above Beta Virginis (β Vir).

Mars and Morning Star Venus are nearing their opposition so that they do not appear together in the morning sky for the remainder of 2020.  In the evening sky, three planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – along with the moon, are easy to locate.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:13 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:56 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

International Space Station Pass (Chicago, Illinois area) begins at 6:02 a.m. CDT low in the south-southwest.  It reaches its highest point about 44° up in the southeast at 6:05 a.m. CDT.  It disappears at 6:08 a.m. CDT about 10° up in the east-northeast.  Find an unobstructed view to the south and east.  The ISS moves below Sirius in the south-southwest, beneath Regulus and above Venus in the east.  The station is brighter than Sirius and dimmer than Venus.  This is an excellent opportunity to see the passage of the ISS across the sky.

Morning: It’s time to make the “last call” to see Mars and Venus in the morning sky together for the rest of 2020.  Mars is low in the west 90 minutes before sunrise, while Venus is about 15° up in the east. On November 9, the planets are in opposition – appear in opposite directions in the sky.  Mars sets in the west as Venus rises in the east.  What is the last day you see Venus in the eastern sky and Mars in the western morning sky? When Venus moves back into the evening sky next year, they again appear in the sky at the same time.  As Venus rises higher, the starfield of Virgo becomes easier to see.  The planet is near the stars Nu Virginis (ν Vir) and Beta Virginis (β Vir).

Detailed morning note: Ninety minutes before sunrise, Mars is over 5° up in the west. The planet sets one hour before sunrise this morning.  At this hour, brilliant Venus is over 22° in altitude in the east-southeast. Venus is in Virgo. It moves through the constellation in 36 days. In the starfield, the planet is 3.2° to the lower right of ν Vir and 3.0° above β Vir. The moon reaches its First Quarter phase at 8:23 a.m. CDT.

See our summary about Venus during October 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

2020, October 23: The slightly gibbous moon is about 11° to the lower left of Saturn in the southern sky about one hour after sunset. The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.8°.

Evening: Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky.  Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest as a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.  The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.8°.  Saturn is to the upper left of Jupiter. The planets are slowly moving eastward compared to the starry background of eastern Sagittarius.  (See the starry background for Jupiter and Saturn here.) Jupiter sets in the southwest before 10:45 p.m. CDT.  The slightly gibbous moon is to the lower left of Saturn. Farther eastward, bright Mars is retrograding among dim stars in Pisces. The Red Planet sets tomorrow morning about an hour before sunrise. (See our Mars summary for October here.)

Detailed evening note:One hour after sunset, the slightly gibbous moon (7.2 days after the New moon phase, 55% illuminated), 25.0° up in the south in southwest Capricornus, is 11° to the lower left of Saturn.  The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.8°. In the starfield, Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sgr.  Jupiter is 3.9° to the lower left of π Sgr and 0.6° below 50 Sgr.  At this hour, Mars is over 15° in altitude in the east. Two hours after sunset, Mars is 25° in altitude in the east-southeast. The Red Planet is 0.8° to the lower right of 80 Psc and 3.4° to the lower right of ε Psc.

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

Read more about the planets during October.

2020, December 7: Moon in Leo, Morning Star Venus, Jupiter Nears Saturn

In the morning before sunrise, the slightly gibbous moon is in Leo, between Regulus and Denebola. Brilliant Morning Star Venus is low in the southeast, stepping eastward in Virgo. With the Great Conjunction in two weeks, Jupiter is near Saturn in the southwest after sunset. Mars marches eastward among the stars of Pisces.

2020, December 6: Morning Star Venus, Gibbous Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars

As morning twilight is in progress, the moon is high in the southwest among the stars of Leo. It is near the “Sickle of Leo. At the same hour Morning Star Venus is dancing eastward in Libran near Zubenelgenubi. In the evening Mars is in the southeast, marching eastward in Pisces. In the southwest, Jupiter approaches Saturn as a prelude to the Great Conjunction in 15 days.

2020, December 5: Morning Star Venus, Gibbous Moon, Evening Planets

During morning twilight brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from low in the east-southeast before sunrise as it steps eastward in front of the stars of Virgo. The gibbous moon lies in front of the stars of Cancer, between Leo and Gemini. In the evening sky. Jupiter continues to dance toward Saturn in a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. In the east-southeast, Mars marches eastward among the dim stars of Pisces.

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