December 29, 2020: Bright Jupiter is to the upper left of Saturn as night falls. Spot them as night falls. The bright moon is low in the east-northeast. Mars continues its eastward march through Pisces.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:28 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Jupiter and Saturn appear lower in the southwest as night falls. Now a week after their Great Conjunction, Jupiter is 0.9° to the upper left of Saturn. Both continue to be visible to the unaided eye. Jupiter sets less than 2 hours after sunset. The viewing window narrows from about 45 minutes after sunset for less than 30 minutes before Jupiter is near the southwest horizon.
Farther east, the bright moon is low in the east-northeast.
Use a binocular to spot the starfield around Mars. The moon’s brightness blots out the dimmer stars to the unaided eye.
The Red Planet is marching eastward in Pisces. Find it high in the southeast when the sky darkens. The Red Planet is 1.2° to the lower left of dim Pi Piscium (π Psc on the chart) and 2.8° to the upper right of Omicron Piscium (ο Psc).
Read about Mars during December.
Detailed note: In the evening sky, the Jupiter – Saturn gap continues to grow. This evening it is 0.9°. Jupiter is over 8° up in the southwest about one hour after sunset. The planet is 1.1° to the lower left of σ Cap. Farther east, Mars is less than 55° in altitude above the southeast horizon. It continues its eastward march in front of the stars of Pisces. Use a binocular to see it 1.2° to the lower right of dim π Psc and 2.8° to the upper right of ο Psc. At this hour, the moon is low in the east-northeast, about 16° to the upper right of Castor (α Gem, m = 1.6).
Read more about the planets during December.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.
- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.