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.
February 19-21: The bright moon moves through the constellation Taurus. Use a binocular to see the starry background with the moon.
February 18, 2021: The moon, waxing toward its First Quarter moon phase, is high in the southwest after sunset. Planet Mars is 3.8° to the upper right of the moon. Mars is parading eastward compared to the starry background in eastern Aries as it heads toward the Taurus border.
February 6, 2021: Before sunrise, look east-southeast for the waning crescent moon. It is 4.5° to the upper left of Antares – the rival of Mars.