Tag: conjunction

2019, July 9: Saturn at Opposition

On July 9, Saturn is at opposition, nearly a month after Jupiter was in the opposite direction in the sky from the sun.

Saturn is near opposition for several nights before and after reaching this point opposite the sun.  To locate the planet step outside after the sky darkens.  The chart above shows the sky about 90 minutes after sunset; check your sources for the time of sunset at your location. (For example, in Chicago, Illinois, the time for the above chart is 10 p.m. CDT.  Near Omaha, Nebraska, 90 minutes after sunset is 10:30 p.m. CDT.)

Jupiter is the bright “star” that is almost south, but less than one-third of the way up in the sky.  Golden-orange Antares is to the lower right of Jupiter.  Saturn is farther left of Jupiter in the southeast, lower in the sky than Jupiter.  Saturn is among the stars of Sagittarius, brighter than those surrounding stars, but not as bright as Jupiter.  For perspective, the moon is outside the chart.  The gibbous moon is in the southwest, above the bluish star Spica.  On July 15, the nearly full moon is to the right of Saturn.

Through a telescope, the planet’s rings are revealed.  If you’re careful, you might see its a few of its moons, depending on the diameter of the lens or the mirror and the magnification that is used.  The large gap in the rings, Cassini’s Division, might be seen as well.

Viewing Saturn through a telescope is one of life’s memorable experiences.  If you view this spectacular ringed wonder through a telescope, you will certainly remember.  A child will remember this experience.

Opposition occurs when Earth passes between a planet farther from the sun than Earth (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and the sun.  The planet rises at sunset, appears in the south around midnight, and sets in the west.  When at opposition, the outer planets are closest to Earth, at their brightest points in the sky, and provide the best telescopic views.

Saturn appears at opposition again on July 20, 2020, when it reaches that point just six days after Jupiter’s opposition.  Jupiter passes Saturn in December 2020 for a Great Conjunction that occurs about every 20 years.


2019, April 13-20: Venus and Mercury in Morning Sky

Venus and Mercury appear near each other on mid-April.  There is no conjunction as Mercury does not pass Venus.  Mercury moves faster and, typically, its motion causes the two to pass each other.  During this event, the two planets do not pass each other but they move within 5° of each other.  This event is know as a quasi-conjunction.

Mercury is in a very unfavorable apparition to observe. It appears very low in the east at Civil Twilight, about 30 minutes before sunrise, when the sun is 6° below the horizon. During this appearance this speedy planet does not rise before Nautical Twilight – which occurs about an hour before sunrise; so Mercury visible in a very bright sky, near the horizon. At its greatest elongation, it is only 4° in altitude.  Find a clear horizon and use a binocular.  First locate Venus then look through your binocular to locate this elusive planet.

The Venus-Mercury gaps:

April 13: 4.5°
April 14: 4.4°
April 15: 4.4°
April 16: 4.3°
April 17: 4.3°
April 18: 4.3°
April 19: 4.4°
April 20: 4.5°

On these mornings, it’s possible to see four planets in the morning sky — Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn — although a binocular may be needed to locate Saturn.  The Ringed Wonder is low in the southern sky,  less than one-third of the way up in the sky.  Jupiter is farther west, to the right of the south direction, at about the same height as Saturn above the horizon.

More about the morning planets:

2019, February 22: Morning Star Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter

This morning Venus is about 4.4 degrees past Saturn. The conjunction was February 18. This morning’s photo has Saturn peeking through the trees. Jupiter is farther west, over 30 degrees from Venus.

More about the morning planets:

2019, February 21: Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter

2019, February 21: Venus is 3.4 degrees to the left of Saturn. Jupiter is in the south.

This morning, three days after the Venus-Saturn conjunction, the brilliant Morning Star Venus is 3.4 degrees to the left of Saturn. Watch the Venus-Saturn gap continue to grow during the next several mornings.  Jupiter is about 26 degrees to the upper right of Saturn.

More about the morning planets:

2019, February 15: Morning Star Venus Approaches Saturn

2019, February 15: Venus is 3.4 degrees to the upper right of Saturn and over 23 degrees to the lower left of Jupiter.

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the southeast this morning.  It passes Saturn in three mornings (February 18).  This morning, Venus is 3.4 degrees to the upper right of Saturn.  Jupiter is over 23 degrees to the upper right of Venus.  Venus passed Jupiter about a month ago.

More about the morning planets:

2019, February 9: Morning Star Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn

2019, February 9: Venus, Jupiter and Saturn shine in the pre-sunrise sky.

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the southeast this morning.  Jupiter is over 17 degrees to the upper left of Venus.  Saturn, beginning to become easier to see is over 9 degrees to the lower left of Venus.

Venus is rapidly moving toward a conjunction with Saturn on February 18.  Watch Venus close the gap and get closer each morning.

More about the morning planets:

2019, February 8: Mars and Planet Uranus, Before Conjunction

2019, February 8: Mars is nearly 3 degrees to the lower right of Uranus this evening.

Bright Mars, shining in the west this evening, is moving through the dimmer stars of Pisces.  On February 12 it passes the planet Uranus.  This evening it is about 3 degrees to the lower right of the planet.  Use binoculars to locate the planet as its brightness is at the limit of human vision.  Magnify the image to see the planet.