November 21, 2020: The Great Conjunction countdown begins, 30 days until the conjunction. Jupiter and Saturn are low in the south-southwest after sunset. The moon appears between Mars and the approaching conjunction. Mars is moving eastward among the stars of Pisces. The moon is at its First Quarter phase at 10:45 p.m. CST.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:48 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:25 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
During the early evening, the thick crescent moon is in the southern sky in front of the dim stars of Aquarius. As the countdown begins for the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21, 2020, Saturn is about one-fourth of the way up in the south-southwest, 3.1° to the upper left of brighter Jupiter.
Use a binocular to see up to four of Jupiter’s largest moons. With the binocular note that the planets are dancing – nightly changing positions – with the star 56 Sagittarius (56 Sgr on the chart). Saturn is 3.0° to the left of the star, while Jupiter is 2.0° below it. Jupiter is also 3.6° to the upper left of 52 Sagittarii (52 Sgr).
Farther east, Mars is moving eastward among the stars of Pisces. The Red Planet is over one-third of the way up in the east-southeast as the sky darkens after sunset. It appears near the dim stars Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc on the chart) and Delta Piscium (δ Psc).
By 8:40 p.m. CST (over 4 hours after sunset), Mars is in the southern sky. It sets in the west after 3 a.m. tomorrow morning.
The moon reaches its First Quarter phase at 10:45 p.m. CST.
For more about Mars during November, see this article.
Detailed note: One hour after sunset, the moon (6.8d, 48%) in western Aquarius – is over 30° up in the south, 4.6° to the lower left of δ Cap. Farther west, Saturn is over 23° in altitude in the south-southwest, 3.1° to the upper left of Jupiter. The Great Conjunction countdown begins, 30 days until the conjunction. Among the dimmer stars, Saturn is 3.0° to the left of 56 Sgr. Jupiter is 2.0° below that star and 3.6° to the upper left of 52 Sgr. Mars is nearly 33° up in the east-southeast. It is 2.6° to the lower right of ε Psc and 2.9° to the lower left of δ Psc. The moon reaches its First Quarter phase at 10:45 p.m. CST.
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.