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.
March 9, 2021: Mars marches eastward in Taurus. Find it high in the west-southwest after sunset.
March 9, 2021: The moon joins Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury in the southeastern sky before sunrise.
March 8, 2021: Mars continues its eastward march in Taurus. It is nearly between the Pleiades star cluster and Aldebaran, the constellation’s brightest star. Find it during the early evening, high in the west-southwestern sky.