Jupiter slowly dances toward its December 21, 2020 Great Conjunction with Saturn. Find them to the upper left of crescent moon this evening. Jupiter is 3.5° to the lower right of Saturn.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:43 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:28 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
One hour after sunset, the crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus are low in the southwestern sky. The lunar sliver is only 2.8 days after its New moon phase and nearly 10° illuminated.
Look with a binocular for the star Kaus Borealis – “the northern part of the bow” of Sagittarius – 3.0° to the upper left of the lunar crescent. The star also marks the top of the “Teapot of Sagittarius,” an informal name given to the stars in this region.
Jupiter is over 20° to the upper left of the moon and 3.5° to the lower right of Saturn. The planets are in eastern Sagittarius, near the border with Capricornus.
Jupiter continues to inch toward Saturn as a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.
In the starfield, Jupiter and Saturn make a triangle with dim 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr). Jupiter is 2.3° below the star, while Saturn is 2.7° to the left of the star. Spot them with a binocular, also needed to see the Jovian Giant 3.2° about 52 Sagittarii (52 Sgr).
Farther eastward, Mars – shining in front of the dim stars of Pisces – is gently moving eastward among the stars and picking up speed after it appeared to reverse its retrograde direction a few evenings ago. Spot the planet about one-third of the way up in the east-southeast after sunset.
Among the stars the Red Planet is 3.0° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc) and 3.0° below Delta Piscium (δ Psc).
For more about Mars during November, see this article.
Detailed note: One hour after sunset, the crescent moon (2.8d, 10%) is nearly 10° up in the southwest. The lunar crescent is 3.0° to the lower right of Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr, m = 2.8), the star at the top of the lid of the Teapot of Sagittarius. Jupiter – over 22° in altitude in the south-southwest – is over 20° to the upper left of the moon. Saturn is 3.5° to the upper left of Jupiter. The gap continues to close as the Jupiter – Saturn Great Conjunction is nearing. Jupiter and Saturn make a triangle with 56 Sgr. Jupiter is 2.3° below the star, while Saturn is 2.7° to the left of the star. Jupiter is 3.2° above 52 Sagittarii (52 Sgr, m = 4.6). Farther east, Mars is nearly 31° in altitude in the east-southeast. Among the dimmer stars of Pisces, the Red Planet is 3.0° to the lower right of ε Psc and 3.0° below δ Psc.
Read more about the planets during November.
May 28, 2021: This evening Mercury passes brilliant Venus for the second of three conjunctions during this evening apparition of the second planet from the sun. Use a binocular about 45 minutes after sunset to see the speedy planet 0.4° to the lower left of Venus. This is the closest visible conjunction until 2033.
May 24, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. In the evening sky, brilliant Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars line up along the solar system’s plane. The bright moon is in the southeast near Zubenelgenubi, “the southern claw.”
May 23, 2021: Five bright planets parade across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn are visible before sunrise in the southeastern sky. The star Fomalhaut is becoming visible below bright Jupiter and near the horizon. After sundown, Evening Star Venus, Mercury, and Mars are in the western sky. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the nighttime hours.
May 22, 2021: Five planets parade across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Evening Star Venus, Mercury and Mars are in the western sky after sunset. A bright moon is in the southeastern sky.
May 21, 2021: Three bright planets are dancing in the western sky after sundown. Evening Star Venus is entering the sky for a months-long residency after its solar conjunction two months ago. Mercury is heading for a conjunction with Venus after its best evening appearance of the year. Mars continues its eastward march in Gemini, but time is running out on its appearance as it approaches brighter evening twilight and a conjunction with Venus.