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.
Look for the bright rosy star Betelgeuse during February evenings. It makes up the shoulder of Orion the Hunter.
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.