November 20, 2020: After sunset, bright rusty Mars is in the east-southeast in front of the dim stars of Pisces. This evening the thick crescent moon is east of the Jupiter-Saturn pair. Jupiter continues to close the gap to Saturn as a runup to their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:47 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:26 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
One hour after sunset, bright rusty Mars is over one-third of the way up in the sky in the east-southeast. It is slowly moving eastward among the dim stars of Pisces. Use a binocular to spot it 2.7° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc on the chart) and 2.9° to the lower left of Delta Piscium (δ Psc).
Jupiter – over 80° to the west of Mars – is low in the south-southwest. Jupiter continues to close the gap to Saturn as a prelude to their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. Saturn is 3.2° to the upper left of Jupiter.
The moon – nearly 40% illuminated and in front of the stars of Capricornus – is over 20° to the upper left of Jupiter. Notice that the moon’s brightness is casting shadows on the ground.
Use a binocular to note that Jupiter and Saturn are dancing past the star 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr on the chart). Jupiter is 2.0° below the star while Saturn is 2.9° to the upper left it. Jupiter is 3.5° to the upper left of 52 Sgr.
For more about Mars during November, see this article.
Detailed note: One hour after sunset, Mars – over 32° up in the east-southeast – is 2.7° to the lower right of ε Psc and 2.9° to the lower left of δ Psc. Jupiter – 81.4° of ecliptic longitude west of Mars – is nearly 22° up in the south-southwest, 3.2° to the lower right of Saturn. In the starfield, the Jovian Giant is 2.0° below 56 Sgr, while Saturn is 2.9° to the left of the star. Jupiter is 3.5° to the upper left of 52 Sgr. The moon (5.8d, 38%) – over 17° to the upper left of Saturn – is nearly 27° up in the south. In Capricornus, the lunar crescent is 9.6° to the lower right of Delta Capricorni (δ Cap, m = 2.8).
Read more about the planets during November.
2020, December 8-14: Jupiter begins its final approach to Saturn as a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.
December 8, 2020: The Great Conjunction countdown: 13 days. Jupiter continues to close in on Saturn. Rusty Mars is in the eastern sky. The bright moon is in the sky nearly all night.
December 8, 2020: The thick crescent moon is in the southern sky before sunrise. It is near the star Denebola, the Lion’s Tail. At that time, Venus is in the southeastern sky among the stars of Libra.