December 23, 2020: Jupiter inches away from Saturn as the gap between the planets grows slightly. The gibbous moon and Red Planet Mars are on the southeast after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:16 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:24 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Just two days after the Great Conjunction, slow-moving Jupiter is 0.2° to the upper left of Saturn in the southwest after sunset. The planet pair sets in the west 2.25 hours after sunset. Catch them early before they disappear below the horizon. The best observing window is from about 45 minutes after sunset for about the next hour.
Farther eastward, the bright gibbous moon, 69% illuminated is 5.6° to the lower left of Mars. The Red Planet is high in the southeast after sunset. It is in the south about 3 hours after sunset. During the night it appears farther west, setting over 5 hours before sunrise.
Read about Mars during December.
Detailed note: One hour after sunset, Jupiter and Saturn are still close together in the southwest. The Jovian Giant is 0.2° to the upper left of the Ringed Wonder. In the starfield, Jupiter is 2.2° to the lower right of σ Cap and 6.0° to the upper left of 56 Sgr. Read the notes for earlier dates this month to observe how much the planets have moved compared to those stars during December. At the end of evening twilight, Mars is 55° up in the south-southeast. The moon (9.3d, 69%) is 5.6° to the lower left of Mars.
Read more about the planets during December.
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