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.
July 29, 2021: In a challenging-to-see conjunction, Mars passes 0.6° to the upper right of the star Regulus.
July 29, 2021: The Jupiter – Mars opposition occurs this evening. The planets are 180° apart as viewed from our planet. Mars is setting as Jupiter rises.
July 27, 2021: Evening Star Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are in the evening sky. Mars is nearing its conjunction with Regulus in two evenings.
July 26, 2021: Four bright planets are in the evening sky. Mars closes in on Regulus for their conjunction in three evenings. Brilliant Evening Star Venus appears to the upper left of the impending Mars – Regulus conjunction. Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky after sunset.
July 25, 2021: Four evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, find Mars in the western sky to the lower right of Venus. As the calendar day ends, look for the moon below bright Jupiter.