2020, December 19: Jupiter, Saturn Slow Motion Dance

Jupiter, Saturn, Moon, December 19, 2020
2020, December 19: As night falls, the moon is in the south-southwest with Jupiter far to its lower left. Bright Jupiter is 0.2° to the lower right of Saturn. The moon is 4.5° to the right of Delta Aquarii (δ Aqr).

December 19, 2020:  Bright Jupiter is 0.2° to the lower right of Saturn this evening.  Check them out dancing in the southwest as night falls. Great Conjunction Countdown: 2 days! The moon is far to the upper left of the planet duo. Mars is marching eastward in Pisces.  Find it high in the southeast after sunset.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:14 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:22 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

As night falls, the moon, that is 30% illuminated, is about one-third of the way up in the south-southwest.  Bright Jupiter is much lower in the southwest, it is very close to Saturn, 0.2° to its upper left.

Find the converging, dancing planets before they are too low in the west.  They set less than 2.5 hours after sunset. The good observing window occurs between 45 minutes after sunset for about an hour.

Great Conjunction Countdown: 2 days!

The moon is 4.5° to the right of Delta Aquarii.

Us a binocular to observe the star near the moon and to clearly distinguish Saturn from Jupiter.

Mars, December 19, 2020
2020, December 19: In the southeast, Mars is 2.5° to the upper left of Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc) and 4.8° to the right of Pi Piscium (π Psc).

Farther eastward, Mars is over halfway up in the southeast.  It continues to march eastward compared to the starry background of Pisces.  It is travelling away from Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc on the chart) and toward the general region of dim Pi Piscium (π Psc). Use a binocular to spot the dim stars with the planets. Next month, Mars passes between π Psc and Omicron Piscium (ο Psc) early next year.

As the night continues, Mars is in the south about 3 hours after sunset.  It sets in the west about 4 hours before sunrise.

Mercury is at its superior conjunction at 9:26 p.m. CST.  It appears in the evening sky later in January.

Read about Mars during December.

Detailed note: As the sky darkens after sunset this evening, the Jupiter – Saturn pair is about 15° up in the southwest.  The gap between the planets is 0.2° with Jupiter to the lower right of Saturn. Great Conjunction Countdown: 2 days.  The moon (5.3d, 30%), over one-third of the way up in the south-southwest, is 4.5° to the right of Delta Aquarii (δ Aqr, m = 3.2).  Look for Fomalhaut (α PsA, m = 1.2) about 15° to the lower left of the moon.  Mars is nearly 49° in altitude in the southeast. In the starfield, the planet is 2.5° to the upper left of ζ Psc and 4.8° to the right of Pi Piscium (π Psc, m = 5.5).  Find π Psc nearly midway from Eta Piscium (η Psc, m = 3.6) to Omicron Piscium (ο Psc, m = 4.2), although it is to the right of a line that connects the two stars. Mercury is at its superior conjunction at 9:26 p.m. CST.

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 December.

2021, May 13: Brilliant Venus, Mercury, and the crescent moon in the evening sky.

2021, August 3: Four Evening Planets: Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter

August 3, 2021:  Four planets appear in the evening sky.  Brilliant Evening Star Venus and dim Mars are in the west after sunset.  A little later during the evening, Saturn and Jupiter are easily visible in the southeast.

Saturn (NASA)

2021, August 2: Saturn at Opposition

August 2, 2021: Saturn is at opposition with the sun.  Earth is between the sun and the planet.

2020, July 17: The crescent moon appears near Venus before sunrise. The night portion of the moon is gently illuminated by earthshine.

2021: August 1 – 6: Morning Moon, Bright Stars

August 1 – 6, 2021:  The morning moon wanes toward its New moon phase in the eastern sky.  It passes the bright stars that are prominent in the evening sky during the winter season in the northern hemisphere.  The stars have been making their first appearances in the morning sky during summer.  At this hour, Procyon and bright Sirius are the last stellar duo to appear.

2021, July 8: The flowers celebrate summer.

2021, August 6: Summer’s Midpoint

August 6, 2021:  In the northern hemisphere, summer’s midpoint occurs today at 6:27 p.m. CDT.

The moon and Spica, December 10, 2020

2021, July 31: Morning Sky, Moon, Mira, Uranus

July 31, 2021:  The slightly gibbous moon, nearing its Last Quarter phase, is in the southeast as morning twilight begins.  It is near the planet Uranus, easily within reach of a binocular.  Mira, a variable star, reaches its brightest next month.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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