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.
November 6, 2021: The midpoint of Autumn occurs today.
November 3, 2021: Before sunrise speedy planet Mercury, the crescent moon, and the star Spica are grouped together. The trio does not appear this close together again until 2033.
October 31, 2021: There is no Halloween Full moon this year, and the phase is not close. The crescent moon is in the morning sky. Mercury is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. The planet pack – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – gleam in the evening sky.
October 29, 2021: Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the sun. It is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn. The crescent moon and Mercury are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!