December 14, 2020: The Great Conjunction countdown: 7 days! The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 0.7°. Find them in the southwest, one hour after sunset. Farther east, Mars is the bright star in the southeast after sunset. It is moving eastward among the stars of Pisces.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:11 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:20 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Great Conjunction Countdown: 7 days. One hour after sunset, find the giant planets in the southwest. They are about 15° up in the sky. The gap between them is 0.7°. Jupiter is slowly overtaking the more distant and slower moving planet.
Mars is marching eastward in Pisces. It is now moving away from a dim, miniature triangle, composed of Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc on the chart), Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc) and 80 Piscium (80 Psc). A binocular is helpful to find the planet with the starry background.
The Red Planet is heading in a direction between Pi Piscium (π Psc) and Omicron Piscium (ο Psc). Mars passes π Psc on January 1 and between the two stars several days later.
On the chart above, also note Hamal, the brightest star in Aries. Mars moves into Aries and passes far from that star later in January 2021.
Note the planet’s changing place in front of the stars during the next six weeks.
Read about Mars during December.
Detailed note: One hour after sunset, the Jupiter – Saturn gap is 0.7°. Great Conjunction Countdown: 7 days. Find the giant planets about 15° in altitude in the southwest. Farther east Mars (m = −0.7) is over halfway up in the southeast. In the starfield, the Red Planet is 0.9° to the upper left of ζ Psc and 3.0° to the lower left of ε Psc.
Read more about the planets during December.
November 7, 2021: During the early evening Venus and the moon group together in the southwest.
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.