Tag: conjunction

2020, April: Morning Planet Parade Marches On

The Bright Outer Planets, April 1, 2020
April 1, 2020: Mars and Saturn are close together, one day after their conjunction. Jupiter is to their upper right.

The three Bright Outer Planets – Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars – are found in the southeastern pre-sunrise sky throughout April 2020.  Jupiter continues its approach to Saturn for the Great Conjunction of December 21, 2020.

For more about the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, click here.

Click here for our detailed notes for the planets during April 2020.

The three worlds look like bright stars to our eyes.  Jupiter is the brightest of the planetary trio.  Saturn and Mars are nearby, to Jupiter’s lower left.

One hour before sunrise, bright Jupiter is nearly 19° up in the southeast. Saturn and Mars are one day past their conjunction. Mars is 1.0° to the lower left of Saturn and the Ringed Wonder is 6.2° to the lower left of Jupiter. The planetary trio spans 6.7°. Watch the span grow about 0.6° each day. To view the trio this close, you’ll have to wait 20 years. By month’s end the BOPs span over 24° as Mars marches eastward.

As Mars moves away from Saturn, Jupiter slowly closes the gap to Saturn for the once-in-a-generation Great Conjunction later this year.  Watch carefully, as Jupiter inches eastward in its orbit faster than Saturn.

Mars moves away from Jupiter and Saturn
2020, April 2: The Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars span 7.3°.

If you have a binocular an a star chart, watch Jupiter slowly move past a dimmer star. Jupiter 1.6° to the lower right of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr, m = 4.8). Watch Jupiter sneak past the star during the next several days. Use a binocular to see Jupiter in the starfield. 

Venus is passed the Pleiades, April 5, 2020
2020, April 6: Jupiter, Saturn, Mars planets span 9.6°.

 

Bright Outer Planets, April 9, 2020
April 9, 2020: The planets are equally spaced this morning. Saturn is 5.7° from Jupiter and Mars.

Each morning, Mars appears farther east than the previous day, by an amount equal to the apparent size of the moon. By April 9, the Bright Outer Planets appear equally spaced in the southeastern pre-dawn sky. One hour before sunrise, Jupiter is over 20° up in the south-southeast. Jupiter is the brightest.  The other two planets are diagonally to Jupiter’s lower left. Saturn is 5.7° from Jupiter and Mars.

With a binocular and a star chart, find the background stars near Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter is 1.5° below 56 Sagittarii. Mars is 1.9° to the lower left of Omicron Sagittarii and 1.8° to the lower right of Upsilon Capricorni.

Bright Outer Planets and the moon, April 15, 2020
April 15, 2020: The moon joins the bright morning planets. The moon is below Saturn this morning.

 

On April 15, the moon joins Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. The thick crescent moon (22.0 days past its New Moon phase, 45% illuminated) is 3.3° below Saturn, 20° up in the southeast. This morning bright Jupiter is 5.5° to the upper right of Saturn and 14.9° to the upper right of Mars.

With your binocular and star chart find Jupiter and Mars in the starfield. Jupiter is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii, while Mars is 3.3° to the right of Theta Capricorni.

The Bright Outer Planets, April 30, 2020
April 30, 2020: Mars is moving away from Jupiter and Saturn, while Jupiter inches closer to Saturn. The Bright Outer Planets span 24.3° this morning.

By month’s end, Mars leaves the two giant planets. One hour before sunrise, Jupiter – over 24° up in the south-southeast – is 4.9° to the upper right of Saturn. The Ringed Wonder is 19.4° to the upper right of Mars. The Bright Outer Planets span 24.3° along the ecliptic.

In the starfield, Jupiter is 2.3° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii. Mars is 1.2° to the upper right of Gamma Capricorni.

2020, March 17: Brilliant Venus Begins Approach to Pleiades

Venus and Pleiades, March 17, 2020
2020, March 17: Venus is over 16° to the lower right of the Pleiades star cluster.

Venus begins its approach to the Pleiades and their April 3, conjunction. This evening, Venus is over 16° to the lower right of the star cluster. The Pleiades are in the constellation Taurus.  The pattern’s brightest star is Aldebaran, to the upper left of the star cluster.

Venus and the stars shine through a thin veil of clouds this evening.

For more about the Venus-Pleiades conjunction, click here.

For more about Venus during March, click here.

2020, March 17: Moon Joins Morning Planet Parade

Moon joins Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn, March 17, 2020
2020, March 17: The moon approaches Jupiter and Mars as Mars closes in for its March 20 conjunction with Jupiter.

 

This morning, the moon approaches Jupiter and Mars as Mars closes in for its March 20 conjunction with Jupiter.  Jupiter is over 12° to the lower left of the moon (22.8 days past the New Moon phase, 39% illuminated). Fast moving Mars is 1.7° to the right of Jupiter. The other planet gaps: Saturn – Mars, 8.9°; Jupiter – Saturn, 7.2°. 

Once every generation, these three planets appear close together in the sky.  Jupiter and Saturn are headed for their every 20-year reunion in December, in what is known as a great conjunction.

Read more about the morning planets here.

2020, March 8: Brilliant Venus Passes Planet Uranus

Venus and Uranus, March 8, 2020
2020, March 8: Venus is 2.2° to the upper right of Uranus.

This evening, under a nearly full moon, brilliant Venus shines from the western sky. It is 2.2° to the upper right of Uranus.  All week Venus has been moving toward the more distant planet.  This evening they appear closest.  

If you look closely at the image, Uranus is present.  Use a binocular to locate the dimmer planet in the sky.  Tomorrow evening Venus is farther to the upper right of Uranus.

Venus is also moving toward the brightest three stars in Aries.  As Venus heads eastward through the stars, it does not pass closely to them.  The brightest star in Aries, Hamal, is labelled in the above image.

Here’s more information about Venus this week and its place compared to Uranus and Aries.

2020, March 7: Morning Planet Parade on Review

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, March 7, 2020
2020, March 7: The morning planets span 15.0°.

This morning the planets continue to parade above the southeast horizon. They span 15.0°.

Jupiter is the brightest of the trio.  Mars is 6.9° to the upper right of Jupiter and Saturn – lower in the sky – is 8.0° to the lower left of the Giant Planet.

Watch Mars continue to close the gap on Jupiter.  Mars passes on March 20 and then reaches Saturn on March 31.

In the starfield, Jupiter is 4.4° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii. Mars is 3.1° to the upper left of Nunki, a star on the handle of the Teapot of Sagittarius,

Once every generation, these three planets appear close together in the sky.  Jupiter and Saturn are headed for their every 20-year reunion in December, in what is known as a great conjunction.

Read more about the morning planets here.

2020, March 3: Venus Approaches Planet Uranus

Venus and Uranus, March 3, 2020
2020, March 3: Uranus is 5.3° to the upper left of Venus.

Brilliant Venus shines from the western sky this evening.  It approaches and passes the planet Uranus on March 7.  This evening, Uranus is 5.3° to the upper left of Venus. 

The three bright stars of Aries are to the upper right of Venus. The constellation’s brightest star is Hamal.

Here’s more information about Venus this week.

2020, March 2: Brilliant Venus Near Planet Uranus

Venus and Uranus, March 2, 2020
2020, March 3: Venus is 6.3° to the lower right of Uranus.

Under the brightness of a First Quarter phase moon, Venus gleams brilliantly in the west.  This week this bright planet approaches and passes the planet Uranus.  This evening Venus is 6.3° to the lower right of Uranus.  Use a binocular to locate Uranus in the star field.

Venus passes to the right of Uranus.  The separation is about 2.3°, about one-third of tonight’s separation.

Here’s more information about Venus this week.