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2020, November 26: Jupiter, Celestial Signposts, Gibbous Moon

Mars from Hubble during 2018

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope photographed Mars on July 18, 2018, during a dust storm and near its closest approach to Earth since 2003. (NASA photo)

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2020, November 26: Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest after sunset. Jupiter is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr), while Saturn is 3.3° to the upper left of the star. Saturn is 4.9° to the lower right of Sigma Capricorni (σ Cap).

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.

2020, November 26: Saturn is 2.6° to the upper left of bright Jupiter.

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.

2020, November 26: In this exaggerated view of the bright moon and starry background, the moon is nearly 13° to the lower left of Mars. The Red Planet is 2.0° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc), 3.0° to the lower left of Delta Piscium (δ Psc), and 2.2° to the upper right of 80 Piscium (80 Psc).

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).

2020, November 26: The moon is over 12 degrees to the lower left of Mars.

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.

For more about the Great Conjunction, read our feature article. This is the closest Jupiter – Saturn conjunction since 1623.

Read more about the planets during November.

2021, October 31:  NO Halloween Full Moon

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.

2021, October 29:  Venus, Greatest Elongation

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.

2021, October 29 – November 1, Lion Moon

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!

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