2023, November 20: Saturn-Moon Conjunction, Venus Steps Eastward

Venus and Mercury, November 20, 2020
2020, November 20: Before sunrise, bright Venus is low in the east-southeast, 5.8° to the lower left of Spica. Mercury is low in the sky.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:46 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:26 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.

Summaries of Current Sky Events
Summary for Venus as a Morning Star, 2023-24

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, November 20: Venus begins its approach to Spica in the southeastern sky before daybreak.

An hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus stands nearly 30° above the southeast horizon.  It easily outshines all other stars in the sky this morning as the single bright planet.  The Morning Star steps eastward each morning against Virgo’s distant stars, 3.1° to the lower left of Porrima, also known as Gamma Virginis, and 11.4° to the upper right of Spica, Virgo’s brightest star.  In two mornings, Venus moves to within 10° of Spica, passing in a wide conjunction on the 29th.

Through a telescope, Venus shows a morning gibbous phase that is 63% illuminated.

Jupiter is not visible at this hour, but two hours earlier, the planet is nearly 15° up in the west, while Venus is less than 10° above the east-southeast horizon.  The Venus-Jupiter gap is over 155°, leading up to their opposition December 10th.

Mars, a few days after its solar conjunction, only rises a few minutes before the sun.  It becomes visible during the new year in the eastern sky before sunup.

Evening Sky

Mercury is not easily visible in the western sky after nightfall.  The planet is bright and nearly 7° above the southwest horizon at sundown.  It sets nearly 50 minutes after the sun.  The planet is easier to spot for southern hemisphere sky watchers.

Chart Caption – 2023, November 20: Saturn and the moon appear close in the evening sky.

An hour after sunset, the slightly-gibbous moon, 56% illuminated, is over 30° above the south-southeast horizon and 5.4° to the lower left of Saturn.

Saturn is slowly moving eastward in front of Aquarius, 6.9° to the upper left of Deneb Algedi, meaning “the kid’s tail.”  Use a binocular to see the planet and the star.  They fit tightly into the same field of view.

The moon passes 3.1° below Saturn earlier today after 9 a.m. CST when the pair is below the horizon in the western hemisphere.  The conjunction can be observed across a large region of the eastern hemisphere after local sunset.

Chart Caption – 2023, November 20: Saturn and the moon appear close in the evening sky.

Bright Jupiter is farther eastward, over 20° above the east horizon.  With this moonlight, a binocular might be needed to see Hamal, 11.3° to the planet’s upper left, and Menkar, 12.9° below the planet.

During the night, the moon and Saturn appear farther westward, setting around midnight.  Jupiter is south nearly six hours after sunset.  It is in the west again tomorrow morning three hours before sunrise when Venus is low in the east.


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