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.
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.