2020, December 24: Jupiter, Saturn Gap Widens

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2020, December 24: The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 0.3°, triple the separation from 3 evenings ago. Jupiter is 2.0° to the lower right of Sigma Capricorni (σ Cap).

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.

2020, December 24: In the southeast after sunset, the gibbous moon is nearly 13° to the lower left of Mars.

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.

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: 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 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.

2021, July 27: Four Evening Planets

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.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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