This evening the crescent moon appears in the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset, over 30° to the lower right of Jupiter. In a darker sky, Jupiter continues to close in on Saturn before the Great Conjunction as Mars picks up speed toward the east among the stars of Pisces.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:41 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:30 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The thin crescent moon can be found low in the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset. It is over 30° to the lower right of Jupiter that is in the south-southwest. Find a clear horizon toward the southwest to see the moon. A tripod-mounted camera with exposures up to 10 seconds can capture earthshine – sunlight reflected from the earth’s features gently illuminates the night portion of the moon.
As the sky darkens further, Saturn is visible 3.6° to the upper left of Jupiter. The gap between the two giant planets continues to shrink as Jupiter slowly overtakes Saturn, leading up to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.
With a binocular notice that the two planets are in a dim starfield. Tonight, they make a small triangle with the dim star 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr on the chart) and Jupiter is 3.3° to the upper left of dim 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).
Jupiter sets in the west at 8:45 p.m. CST (4 hours, 15 minutes after sunset) and Saturn follows several minutes later.
Mars is farther east, about one-third of the way up in the east-southeast. In the starfield, Mars is slowly moving eastward after appearing to reverse its direction a few evenings ago. It will pick up its eastward march among the dim stars of Pisces. This evening Mars is 3.1° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc on the chart) and 3.0° below Delta Piscium (δ Psc).
The Red Planet sets in the west at 3:30 a.m. CST, about 3 hours, 10 minutes before sunrise.
For more about Mars during November, see this article.
Detailed note: In the evening forty-five minutes after sunset, the moon (1.8d, 4%) is 5.0° up in the southwest. As the sky darkens further, Saturn is about 24° up in the south-southwest, 3.6° to the upper left of bright Jupiter. Saturn and Jupiter make a triangle with 56 Sgr. Saturn is 2.6° to the lower left of the star, while Jupiter is 2.4° to the lower right. The Jovian Giant is 3.3° to the upper left of 50 Sgr. Farther east, Mars is 30.0° in altitude in the east-southeast. The Red Planet is 3.1° to the lower right of ε Psc and 3.0° below δ Psc.
Read more about the planets during November.
This morning’s planets.
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.
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.
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.