December 24, 2020: Jupiter and Saturn continue to shine together in the west after sunset. The Jupiter – Saturn gap widens each evening. The gibbous moon and Mars are in the southeast after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:16 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:25 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
In the evening sky, Jupiter continues to inch away from Saturn. This evening’s gap is 0.3°. It’s still narrow, but the change is easily observed. Jupiter is moving eastward faster than Saturn, in front of the starry background.
Look for them low in the sky from about 45 minutes after sunset until about 90 minutes after local sunset before they disappear below the southwestern horizon.
Meanwhile, farther east, the gibbous moon is about 13° to the lower left of the moon in the southeast as night falls. The chart above shows an exaggerated view of the sky with many stars in the region of Mars and the moon. To see them, a binocular is necessary to see the stars with the bright moonlight.
Read about Mars during December.
Detailed note: In the evening sky, the Jupiter – Saturn gap has grown to 0.3°. Jupiter is to Saturn’s upper left. In the starfield, Jupiter is 2.0° to the lower right of σ Cap and 6.2° to the upper left of 56 Sgr. One hour after sunset, Jupiter is nearly 11° in altitude in the southwest. The moon (10.3d, 77%) is nearly halfway up in the east-southeast, nearly 13° to the lower left of Mars.
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.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!
October 26, 27, and 28, 2021: During the early morning hours, the bright gibbous moon appears in front of Gemini’s stars.