December 9, 2020: The Great Conjunction countdown: 12 days. Jupiter and Saturn are now 1.0° as the seemingly slow-motion conjunction continues to unfold in the southwestern sky. Farther east, rusty Mars is moving eastward in Pisces with noticeable nightly changes.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:07 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:20 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The Great Conjunction of 2020 is 12 days away! One hour after sunset, Saturn is less that a quarter of the way up in the sky in the southwest. Brighter Jupiter is 1.0° to the lower right of Saturn. The change is noticeable as the conjunction draws near.
Bright Mars is in the southeast, about halfway up in the sky as night falls. The planet continues to move eastward among the dim stars of Pisces.
With a binocular note that it above an imaginary line that connects Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc on the chart) and Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc).
Read about Mars during December.
Detailed note: One hour after sunset, Saturn is nearly 18° up in the southwest, 1.0° to the upper left of brighter Jupiter. The Jovian Giant continues to close the gap with the Ringed Wonder. Great Conjunction Countdown: 12 days. Mars is farther east, less than halfway up in the sky above the southeast horizon on a line that connects ε Psc and ζ Psc. The Red Planet is 1.6° to the lower left of ε Psc, 1.0° to the upper right of ζ Psc, and 2.0° to the upper left of 80 Psc. Use a binocular to spot the planet with the stars.
Read more about the planets during December.
- 2023, December 21: Winter Solstice, Great Conjunction Plus 3 YearsDecember 21, 2023: Winter begins in the northern hemisphere. Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the evening sky three years after their Great Conjunction.
- 2023, December 20: Morning Star, Evening Moon Nears JupiterDecember 20, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the southeast before daybreak. After nightfall the gibbous moon nears Jupiter in the southeast sky.
- 2023, December 19: A Scorpion Fumble, Moon MidwayDecember 19, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus appears below the Scorpion’s claws. After sundown, the moon is nearly midway from Saturn to Jupiter.
- 2023, December 18: Pinched VenusDecember 18, 2023: Look for Venus between the Scorpion’s claws in the southeast before sunrise. The thick crescent moon is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn.
- 2023, December 17: Celestial PairsDecember 17, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus passes Zubenelgenubi, a planet-star conjunction. After sundown, Saturn and crescent moon are paired, a planet-moon conjunction.