November 26, 2020: The Great Conjunction countdown: 25 days. Jupiter passes a dim celestial signpost and won’t return until 2032. Jupiter continues to close the gap to Saturn. In the east, the bright moon is near Mars.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:54 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:22 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
To demonstrate Jupiter’s long orbital period (11.86 years), the planet passes the dim star 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr on the chart). The star has been a reliable, but dim, signpost to watch the planetary motions of Jupiter and Saturn during the year.
When the Jovian Giant passes this way again, during a triple conjunction with the star, Jupiter first passes 56 Sgr on March 10, 2032. As Jupiter retrogrades, a second conjunction occurs, August 2. The third conjunction occurs November 1, 2032.
From this triple conjunction the next great conjunction is still 8 years away (October 31, 2040). By this date, Saturn has moved farther eastward compared to the starry background. Jupiter then overtakes the Ringed Wonder for the next Great Conjunction.
Meanwhile, the Great Conjunction of 2020 is 25 days away!
This evening Jupiter passes 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sgr. Saturn is 3.3° to the upper left of the star and 4.9° to the lower right of Sigma Capricorni (σ Cap). With the bright moon in the eastern sky, use a binocular to view the starry background.
Farther eastward, the bright gibbous moon is to the lower left of rusty Mars. As with the starry background near Jupiter and Saturn, use a binocular to spot Mars 2.0° to the lower right of ε Psc, 3.0° to the lower left of δ Psc, and 2.2° to the upper right of 80 Piscium (80 Psc).
The stars ε Psc, 80 Psc, and Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc) form nearly an equilateral triangle. Watch Mars approach and move through the shape during the next several evenings.
The moon is at apogee at 6:29 p.m. CDT, 252,193 miles away.
For more about Mars during November, see this article.
Read more about the planets during November.
In the morning before sunrise, the slightly gibbous moon is in Leo, between Regulus and Denebola. Brilliant Morning Star Venus is low in the southeast, stepping eastward in Virgo. With the Great Conjunction in two weeks, Jupiter is near Saturn in the southwest after sunset. Mars marches eastward among the stars of Pisces.
As morning twilight is in progress, the moon is high in the southwest among the stars of Leo. It is near the “Sickle of Leo. At the same hour Morning Star Venus is dancing eastward in Libran near Zubenelgenubi. In the evening Mars is in the southeast, marching eastward in Pisces. In the southwest, Jupiter approaches Saturn as a prelude to the Great Conjunction in 15 days.
During morning twilight brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from low in the east-southeast before sunrise as it steps eastward in front of the stars of Virgo. The gibbous moon lies in front of the stars of Cancer, between Leo and Gemini. In the evening sky. Jupiter continues to dance toward Saturn in a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. In the east-southeast, Mars marches eastward among the dim stars of Pisces.