2020, October 16: Winter Triangle in South

Winter Triangle in South, October 16, 2020, one hour before sunrise.
2020, October 16: One hour before sunrise, the Winter Triangle – Sirius, Procyon, and Betelgeuse – in the southern sky.

The Winter Triangle is in the south before sunrise. During the nighttime hours four bright planets are visible: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:05 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:07 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

Morning: Look for Sirius, Procyon, and Betelgeuse – the Winter Triangle – in the south one hour before sunrise. The bright planets resemble overly bright stars.  An hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus sparkles in the east in front of the stars of Leo.  It continues its eastward steps in front of that starry background.  Mars is retrograding in eastern Pisces.  The planet shines brightly from low in the western sky.  Venus and Mars even outshine Sirius, the night’s brightest star that is low in the southern sky at this hour.

Mars in Pisces, October 16, 2020.
2020, October 16: During pre-twilight hours, Mars is about one-third of the way up in the west southwest. In the starfield, Mars is 3.1° to the lower right of Mu Piscium (μ Psc), 1.5° to the upper right of 89 Piscium (89 Psc), and 2.6° to the lower right of Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc).

Detailed morning note: One hour before sunrise, Venus is nearly 24° up in the east-southeast, 1.2° below Chi Leonis (χ Leo), 3.0° to the upper right of Sigma Leonis (σ Leo, m = 4.0), and 5.3° to the right of Iota Leo (ι Leo).  Use a binocular to see the starfield. Farther west along the ecliptic, Mars is about 8° above the western horizon. Spica is at its solar conjunction today.  The Sun – Spica gap is 2.0°.  The moon reaches its New Moon phase at 2:31 p.m. CDT, followed by its perigee (221,775 miles away) at 6:46 p.m. CDT. 

Venus in Leo, October 16, 2020
2020, October 16: Venus shines brightly in the eastern sky in front of the stars of Leo. In the starfield, the planet is 1.2° below Chi Leonis (χ Leo), 3.0° to the upper right of Sigma Leonis (σ Leo), and 5.3° to the right of Iota Leo (ι Leo). Denebola – the Tail of Leo – is over 12° to the lower left of the planet.

See our summary about Venus during October 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

Evening:  Jupiter and Saturn continue to shine from the southern sky after sunset.  Jupiter sets in the southwest a few minutes after 11 p.m. CDT, and Saturn sets about 11:40 p.m.  Jupiter continues to close in on Saturn for their Great Conjunction later in the year.  Meanwhile, rusty Mars sparkles in the eastern sky.  It is a few days past its opposition with the sun.  So, it rises in the east when the sun sets in the west and sets in the west as the sunrises in the east.  The Red Planet is slowly retrograding among the stars of Pisces.  Look each evening to notice the changing position of the planet compared to the dim stars.

Detailed evening note:  One hour after sunset, Mars is nearly 11° in altitude in the east.  Farther west along the ecliptic, Saturn is nearly 27° up in the south, and 6.3° to the upper left of bright Jupiter.  Among the stars, Saturn is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr), while Jupiter is 3.2° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 1.2° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  Two hours after sunset, Mars – retrograding in Pisces – is 22.0° up in the east-southeast.  In the starfield, Mars is 3.3° to the upper right of Mu Piscium (μ Psc), 1.5° to the upper left of 89 Piscium (89 Psc), and 2.5° to the lower right of Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc).

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 October.

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Mars

2020, Mars During November

The Red Planet’s retrograde motion ends during mid-November. The planet slowly resumes its eastward direction among the dim stars of Pisces. Bright Mars is visible in the east-southeastern sky after sunset during November.

Moon in the Bull's Horns. October 8, 2020

2020, November 3: Morning Star Venus, Mercury and Moon, Bull’s Horns

Mercury begins to join Morning Star Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The moon is in the morning sky in the west. Three evening planets are found after sunset, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mars is in the east-southeast and the Jupiter – Saturn pair is in the south-southwest after sunset. Four hours after sunset, look for the moon between the bull’s horns.

Crescent Moon, Venus, and Aldebaran, July 17, 2020

2020, November 2: Morning Star Venus, Mercury and Evening Planets

Mercury begins to join Morning Star Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The moon is in the morning sky in the west. Three evening planets are found after sunset, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mars is in the east-southeast and the Jupiter – Saturn pair is in the south-southwest after sunset. Today is a heliocentric conjunction for Jupiter and Saturn.

2020, October 15: Skies for Ides of October

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, October 15, 2020
2020, October 15: Jupiter and Saturn move eastward in eastern Sagittarius as a prelude to the Great Conjunction.

Four planets are visible on October 15.  Venus and Mars are in the morning sky.  Mars returns to the sky during the early evening along with Jupiter and Saturn.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:04 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:08 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times.

Morning: The old crescent moon is low in east about one hour before sunrise. Venus and Mars are morning planets.  Venus is “that bright star” in the eastern sky before sunrise. Mars, now past opposition is very low in the west, setting a few minutes before sunrise.

The higher Venus is in the eastern sky, the lower Mars is in the western sky.  They are approaching their opposition so that Venus rises as Mars sets.  This occurs on November 9.  After that date, the two planets are not in the sky at the same time until next summer when they appear in the evening sky together.

Detailed morning note: One hour before sunrise, Venus – about 24° up in the east-southeast – is 0.3° to the lower right of Chi Leonis (χ Leo). The moon (28.0 days after the New Moon, 3% illuminated) is about 7° up in the east, nearly 20° to the lower left of Venus. Through a telescope, Venus is 14.2” across and 76% illuminated, a morning gibbous phase. Mars – 144.2° of ecliptic longitude west of Venus – is over 9° up in the west. The Venus – Mars gap has grown over 20° since the month begins.  Venus is quickly stepping eastward in Leo as Mars retrogrades in Pisces. 

See our summary about Venus during October 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, October 15, 2020.
2020, October 15: In the south-southwest, Saturn is 6.4° to the upper left of Jupiter. In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.1° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 1.3° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr). Saturn is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).

Evening:  Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are evening planets.  Bright Jupiter is low in the south with Saturn to its upper left.  The planets are slowly moving eastward compared to the stars from night-to-night.  Farther east, bright Mars – distinctly a rusty tint – is low in the east during early evening.  It is in the south at nearly 12:30 a.m. CDT tomorrow morning.

Mars in Pisces, October 15, 2020
2020, October 15: In the east-southeast, Mars is 3.0° to the upper right of Mu Piscium (μ Psc), 1.6° to the upper left of 89 Piscium (89 Psc), and 2.6° to the lower right of Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc).

Detailed evening note:One hour after sunset, Mars is over 10° in altitude in the east.  Jupiter – 91.3° of ecliptic longitude west of Mars – is over 25° in altitude in the south.  Saturn is 6.4° to the upper left of the Jovian Giant.  In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.1° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 1.3° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  Saturn is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).  An hour later, Mars is over 21° up in the east-southeast.  It is 3.0° to the upper right of Mu Piscium (μ Psc), 1.6° to the upper left of 89 Piscium (89 Psc), and 2.6° to the lower right of Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc). Through a telescope, Mars is 22.2” across.

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 October.

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Venus and Moon, October 13, 2020

2020, November: Brilliant Morning Star Venus and Mercury

Brilliant Venus continues to shine brightly in the morning sky. Venus is “that bright star” in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Venus steps eastward in Virgo as Mercury makes its best morning appearance for the year. The crescent moon joins the bright inner planets on November 12 and November 13.

Venus and Moon, October 13, 2020

2020, November 1: Speedy Mercury, Evening Planets

Speedy Mercury joins Morning Star Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The first rock from the sun is entering the morning sky for its best appearance of the year. In the evening, Mars shines in the eastern sky, while in the south-southwest Jupiter edges toward its Great Conjunction with Saturn on December 21, 2020.

Jupiter and Saturn, July 17, 2020

2020, October 26: Morning Star Venus, Evening Moon, Planets

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines in the eastern sky among the stars of Pisces. Mars is visible earlier in the morning, but is low in the sky when Venus rises. In the evening, Mars shines from the east, while Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest as a prelude to their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. The moon appears to the upper right of Mars.

2020, October 7-8: One Night, Four Planets

During early October nights four bright planets and the moon appear in the sky.  Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars shine during evening hours.  Before sunrise brilliant Morning Star Venus and Mars gleam in the sky.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

During early October nights, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars shine during the early evening hours.  By morning, Mars is in the western sky as Venus sparkles in the east.  The moon is moving toward Venus for a grouping as mid-month approaches on the calendar.

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, October 7, 2020
2020, October 7: Saturn is 7.0° to the upper left of the Jovian Giant. In the starfield, Jupiter is 2.6° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 1.9° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr). Saturn is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr). Note the kite-shaped pattern known as Dogs Kingdom.

Jupiter and Saturn shine from the southern sky as the sky darkens. Both planets are gently moving eastward compared to the starry background in eastern Sagittarius.  They are about 7° apart.

Jupiter catches Saturn on December 21, 2020, in what is called a Great Conjunction.  Both planets are slow-moving.  Jupiter revolves around the sun in nearly 12 years, while Saturn takes nearly 30 years to make one solar circuit.

Jupiter and Saturn group together nearly every 20 years.  This is the closest conjunction since 1623.

This is an event in slow motion as Jupiter inches toward the Ringed Wonder.  With a binocular make regular observations to watch the shrinking gap

Jupiter sets in the southwestern sky before midnight and Saturn follows about 40 minutes later.

The Sagittarius region near Saturn has a kite-shape group made of four dim stars.  Use a binocular to locate it.  It is known informally as the Territory of Dogs or Dogs Kingdom.

Mars – a few days after its closest approach to Earth – is nearing its opposition (October 13).  While at its brightest, Earth passes between the sun and Mars.  The sun and Mars are on opposite each other in the sky.

Mars rises in the east when the sun sets in the west, appears in the south near midnight, and sets in the west.

Mars in Pisces, October 8, 2020
2020, October 7: Mars is in the eastern sky after sunset among the dim stars of Pisces.

This image shows the Red Planet compared to its starry background during the early evening.  On the photo Mars is near Mu Piscium (μ Psc).  During the next few weeks watch the planet move toward 80 Piscium (80 Psc).

Mars is retrograding compared to the stars. This an illusion from Earth passing an outer planet.  Mars continues to retrograde for the next month.

Mars in Pisces, October 8, 2020
2020, October 8: Mars is 0.6° below Mu Piscium (μ Psc). Watch Mars move toward 80 Piscium (80 Psc).

In the morning Mars is in the west.  In the photo above, notice how the orientation of the stars appears shifted from the evening view.  The relationship of the stars is the same as during the evening photo.

Venus in Leo, October 8, 2020
2020, October 8: Venus passes 0.5° to the upper left of ρ Leo.

As morning twilight begins look eastward for brilliant Venus.  It is stepping eastward in front of the stars of Leo.  In the photo above it appears near Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the photo).

See our summary about Venus during October 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

Moon in the Bull's Horns. October 8, 2020
2020, October 8: Among the stars along the ecliptic, the gibbous moon, overexposed and behind the tree leaves, is 3.3° to the upper left of Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau), the Southern Horn of Taurus, and nearly 7° to the lower left of Elnath, the Northern Horn.

Meanwhile, the moon appears farther eastward each morning.  In the photo above, the gibbous moon was seemingly between the Bull’s Horns, Elnath and Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the photo).

Each morning look at Venus and the nearby starfield with a binocular as the planet steps farther away from Regulus and moves away from ρ Leo.

Watch Venus continue to move through Leo during most of October.

The moon is in the region with Venus and Regulus beginning October 12.

Read more about the planets during October.

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Venus and the moon, June 29, 2020.

2020, October 25: Morning Star Venus, Evening Moon, Planets

The brilliant Morning Star Venus continues to step through Virgo. It is that “bright star in the eastern sky” before sunrise. This morning Venus is near Beta Virginis. In the evening sky, the gibbous moon is between Mars and Jupiter, and near the star Fomalhaut. Mars is in the east-southeast. Jupiter and Saturn are in the east-southeast.

Astronomy

2020: Daylight Saving Time Commentary

In this commentary is a different idea about year-round daylight time, based on astronomical concepts for the mid-northern latitudes. Year-round or not, a different approach may yield better results.

2020, October 7: Morning Star Venus, Mars, Moon

Moon in Taurus, October 7, 2020
2020: October 7: The moon (overexposed in the photo and partially blocked by tree leaves) appears 6.8° to the upper left of the star Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster.

Brilliant Venus, bright Mars, and the gibbous moon shine brightly in the morning sky.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

The gibbous moon, Mars, and Morning Star Venus shine brightly from the morning sky.

The moon, 75% illuminated, shines from high in the southern sky before morning twilight begins.  This morning the lunar orb is 6.8° to the upper left of the star Aldebaran.  The star and the Hyades star cluster form the face of Taurus the Bull.  Aldebaran marks a Bull’s eye.

On the photo above, the tree’s leaves block most of the overexposed image of the moon.  Aldebaran and the Hyades appear to the lower right of the moon.

Mars in Pisces, October 7, 2020
2020: October 7: Mars is 0.4° to the lower left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc on the photo) and 2.9° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc). With a binocular watch the planet approach and pass 80 Piscium (80 Psc) as it continues to retrograde.

Farther west, Mars is retrograding among the stars of Pisces.  Retrograde motion is an illusion that seems to show that the planet is moving backwards compared to the distant stars. 

The planets normally move eastward compared to the starry background.  When Earth passes the outer planets, they show this retrograde motion.  This motion was the major cosmological problem before the invention of the telescopes to make detail observations and photographs of the sky.

Just one day past its closest approach to Earth until 2035, the Red Planet continues to appear as an overly bright star in the sky. 

Next week (October 13), Mars is at opposition with the sun.  For us, Mars and the sun are in opposite directions.  The planet rises in the east at sunset, appears in the south around midnight, and sets in the west at sunrise.

When near opposition, the outer planets display at their brightest in the skies of Earth.

On the photo above, Mars is 0.4° to the lower left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc on the photo) and 2.9° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc).  With a binocular make observations each morning to watch the planet approach and pass 80 Piscium (80 Psc) as it continues to retrograde.

Venus in Leo, October 7, 2020
2020: October 7: Venus is 5.2° to the lower left of Regulus and 1.3° above Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the photo).

Farther east, Morning Star Venus continues to step eastward in Leo.  Now well-past Regulus, Venus approaches Rho Leonis (ρ Leo n the photo).  This morning, Venus is 5.2° to the lower left of Regulus and 1.3° above ρ Leo. 

See our summary about Venus during October 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

Each morning look at Venus and the nearby starfield with a binocular as the planet steps away from Regulus and toward ρ Leo.

Watch Venus continue to move through Leo during most of October.

The moon is in the region with Venus and Regulus beginning October 12.

Read more about the planets during October.

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The crescent moon before sunrise, July 19, 2020.

2020, October 23: Last Call for Venus and Mars in Morning Sky

Mars and Morning Star Venus are nearing their opposition so that they do not appear together in the morning sky for the remainder of 2020. In the evening sky, three planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – along with the moon, are easy to locate.

Venus and Moon, October 13, 2020

2020, October 21: Morning Star Venus, Evening Crescent Moon

Morning Star Venus and Mars are approaching the date when they do not appear in the morning sky again for the remainder of the year. The lunar crescent appears among the stars of Sagittarius, near giant planets Jupiter and Saturn as they approach their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.

2020, October 6: Venus Steps Through Leo

Venus in Leo, October 6, 2020
2020, October 6: Venus shines brightly from the eastern sky before sunrise. This morning it is 4.1° to the lower left of Regulus and 2.5° to the upper right of Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the chart.)

Morning Star Venus steps through Leo during October in the eastern sky near the star Regulus.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Brilliant Venus is “that bright star” in the eastern sky before sunrise during October.

The planet shines from in front of the stars of Leo. This morning it was 4.1° to the lower left of Regulus and 2.5° to the upper right of Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the chart.)

See our summary about Venus during October 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

Each morning look at Venus and the nearby starfield with a binocular as the planet steps away from Regulus and toward ρ Leo.

Watch Venus continue to move through Leo during most of October.

The moon is in the region with Venus and Regulus beginning October 12.

Read more about the planets during October.

Recent Articles

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, October 4, 2020.

2020, October 20: Morning Star Venus, Evening Lunar Crescent

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the east-southeast before sunrise. It is in front of the stars of Leo. In the evening, the lunar crescent is in the southwest, not far from Jupiter and Saturn that are approaching their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. Bright Mars shines from the evening’s eastern sky.

The crescent moon, September 15, 2020

2020, October 18: Crescent Moon in West

The crescent moon is low in the west about 30 minutes after sunset near the star Antares. Four bright planets – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible during the night.

2020, October 6: Mars Closest

Mars in Pisces, October 6, 2020
2020, October 6: Mars is closest to Earth today. The is 2.6° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc on the photo) and 0.3° to the lower left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc).

Bright Mars makes its closest approach to Earth today.  It appears as an overly bright star in the sky.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Mars makes its closest approach to Earth today until September 11, 2035.

About 2 hours after sunset find it low in the eastern sky.  At this time Jupiter and Saturn are in the south.  As Earth revolves, the planet appears to move westward.  Around midnight it is in the south and in the western sky before sunrise.

Today the Red Planet is 38.6 million miles away.  The planet appears as an overly bright star in the sky. 

This morning Mars appeared in the western sky before sunrise.  It shines from in front of the stars of Pisces.

As Mars revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit, it is at varying distances as Earth passes by about every 26 months.

In a week, October 13, Mars is at opposition with the sun.  They appear in opposite directions in the sky.

The planet is retrograding – moving westward compared to the stars – in Pisces, an illusion as our faster moving planet passes the outer planets.

In the photo above, Mars is 2.6° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc on the photo) and 0.3° to the lower left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc).

Use a binocular to observe the planet’s motion compared to the starry background as it retrogrades for about another month.

Read more about the planets during October.

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Full moon

2020, October 17: Moon Returns to Evening Sky

A New moon is visible low in the western sky after sunset. Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are visible during the night. Jupiter continues to close the gap to Saturn before the Great Conjunction of 2020.

2020, October 5: Venus, Mars Gleam in Morning Sky

Mars in Pisces, October 5, 2020
2020, October 5: Mars is one day from its closest approach to Earth. The Red Planet is 2.3° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc) and 0.5° to the upper left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc).

Brilliant Venus and bright Mars shine from the morning sky.  Mars – one day before its closest approach to Earth – shines in the sky nearly all night.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Brilliant Venus shines from the east before sunrise, while Mars is in the sky nearly all night.

Mars shines from high in the western sky at the time of the photo above.  It is in the dim starfield of Pisces.

Mars is one day from its closest approach to Earth.  At their closest, the planets are 38.6 million miles apart.  They will not be this close again until 2035.

Earth passes Mars about every 26 months, but because of the Red Planet’s elliptical orbit, the closest separation grows until February 19, 2027, and then diminishes until September 11, 2035.  Then the separation is 35.4 million miles.

Presently, Mars appears as an overly bright star.  The Martian globe is only one-half the size of Earth.  As it shines by reflected sunlight and its apparent size changes from the changing distance, its brightness varies widely depending on its distance from Earth and the sun.

Mars rises in the east during early evening hours.  During the night it moves westward with the rotating Earth.  By morning it is in the western sky.

In a week (October 13), Earth passes between the sun and Mars.  The Red Planet is said to be at opposition with the sun, as they are in opposite directions in our sky.

Mars is retrograding – moving westward compared to the stars – in Pisces.  This is an illusion as Earth passes the slower moving planets.

On the photo above, Mars is 0.5° to the upper left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc on the photo).  During the next several mornings, the planet passes this star.  Take a look at the starfield with Mars using a binocular as the planet passes the star and moves away from it.

Venus in Leo, October 5, 2020
202, October 5: Venus is 2.9° to the lower left of Regulus and 3.6° to the upper right of Rho Leonis (ρ Leo). Venus is nearly along a line that connects the two stars.

Farther eastward, brilliant Venus shines from the stars of Leo.  It continues to outshine all other “stars” in the night sky.  This morning the planet is 2.9° to the lower left of the bright star Regulus and 3.6° above Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the photo above).  As with Mars, use a binocular to watch Venus move away from Regulus and toward ρ Leo during the next several mornings.

See our summary about Venus during October 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

Watch Venus continue to move through Leo during most of October.

The moon is in the region with Venus and Regulus beginning October 12.

Read more about the planets during October.

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Moon in the Bull's Horns. October 8, 2020

2020, October 7-8: One Night, Four Planets

During early October nights four bright planets and the moon appear in the sky. Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars shine during evening hours. Before sunrise brilliant Morning Star Venus and Mars gleam in the sky.

2020, October 4: Jupiter, Saturn Evening Planets

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, October 4, 2020.
Bright Jupiter is 7.1° to Saturn’s lower right. In the starfield, Saturn is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr), while Jupiter is 2.6° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 2.1° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).

Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the south during the early evening hours of October.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southern sky as the sky darkens after sunset during early October.

Both planets are slowly moving eastward in front of the stars of eastern Sagittarius, before their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.  Such groupings occur once every 19.6 years.

For more about the Great Conjunction, read our feature article. This is the closest Jupiter – Saturn conjunction since 1623.

In a month (November 2, 2020), the two planets have a heliocentric conjunction.  As viewed from the sun, the two planets are lined up, but they are still far apart as seen from the skies of Earth.

Jupiter is 7.1° to the lower right of Saturn.

On the image above, three stars are identified, Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr on the photo), 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr) and 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  Use a binocular to observe the planets slowly move compared to the starfield.  Jupiter moves away from π Sgr and toward 50 Sgr.  Saturn slowly inches eastward (to the left on the photo) compared to 56 Sgr.

The motion is slow-moving and the anticipatory approach of Jupiter toward Saturn has been occurring since they emerged from the sun’s glare in the morning sky last winter.

Jupiter is now closing in on the Ringed Wonder.

Read more about the planets during October.

Recent Articles

2020, October 1: Venus in Leo

Venus and Regulus, October 1, 2020
2020, October 1: Brilliant Venus shines from the eastern sky. The planet is stepping eastward in Leo. This morning it is 1.7° to the upper right of Regulus (α Leo) and 0.7° to the lower left of Nu Leonis (ν Leo).

Brilliant Venus shines from the eastern sky near Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

This morning brilliant Venus shines from eastern sky as it steps eastward among the stars of Leo.  It is 1.7° to the upper right of Regulus, the brightest star in Leo. 

Venus is moving away from Nu Leonis (ν Leo on the photo above).  The planet is 0.7° to the lower left of that star.

During the next two mornings, Venus is very close to Regulus.

See our summary about Venus during October 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

Watch Venus continue to move through the constellation for most of October.

The moon is in the region with Venus and Regulus beginning October 12.

Read more about the planets during October.

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2020, September 30: Jupiter, Saturn in Evening Sky

Bright Jupiter and dimmer Saturn appear in the southern sky after sunset on September 30, 2020.

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, September 30, 2020
2020, September 30: Jupiter is 7.4° to the lower right of Saturn. In the starfield, Saturn is 1.7° below 56 Sgr. Jupiter is 2.3° to the lower left of π Sgr and 2.4° to the lower right of 50 Sgr.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

As the sky darkens, look low in the southern sky for bright Jupiter and dimmer Saturn.  They look like overly bright stars. Saturn is to Jupiter’s upper left.

Both planets are gradually moving eastward compared to the starry background.  While they rise in the east and set in the west, they gradually move eastward compared to the stars.

Three stars are identified in the photo above:  Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr on the photo), 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr) and 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).

The planets are moving in front of the stars of eastern Sagittarius.  These dimmer stars are identified by Greek letters and numbers, along with the genitive form of Sagittarius, and its shorter form (Sgr).

During the next several weeks, watch the planets move eastward – to the left on the photo. A binocular is helpful to see the planets with the stars.  Jupiter moves away from π Sgr and toward dim 50 Sgr.  Eventually, Jupiter passes that star as well and begins to close in on Saturn for their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.

For more about the Great Conjunction, read our feature article. This is the closest Jupiter – Saturn conjunction since 1623.

For the next several weeks, Saturn slowly moves away from 56 Sgr.

The motion is slow-moving and the anticipatory approach of Jupiter toward Saturn has been occurring since they emerged from the sun’s glare in the morning sky last winter.

Jupiter is now closing in on the Ringed Wonder.

Read more about the planets during October.

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Watching the Sun, Moon and Planets