Tag Archives: Jupiter

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

Venus and Mercury, November 3, 2020
The bright gibbous moon appears to be caught in between the horns of Taurus. Look for the moon in the east-northeast about 4 hours after sunset. Block its light with your hand to observe to two horns, Zeta Tau (ζ Tau on the chart) and Beta Tauri (β Tau).

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:26 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:42 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in your location.

Morning: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus is less than one-third of the way up in the east-southeast.  This is its first morning in Virgo for this morning apparition.  As the sky brightens further, Mercury rises higher in the sky, appearing near the star.  Farther west, the bright gibbous moon is near the star Aldebaran.

Morning detailed note: One hour before sunrise, Venus is about 20° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon.  Moving eastward in Virgo, the brilliant planet is 2.6° to the lower left of Eta Virginis (η Vir) and 2.8° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir).  Fifteen minutes later, Spica is over 6° up in the east-southeast.  Mercury (m = 0.5) is 4.1° to the left of the star.  Farther west, the moon (17.7d, 93%) – over 39° up in the west – is 4.8° to the upper right of Aldebaran. 

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

The Moon in Taurus, November 3, 2020
2020, November 3, 2020: Brilliant Venus shines in the east-southeast 45 minutes before sunrise. It is 2.8° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir on the chart). Mercury is low in the sky, near the horizon and 4.1° to the left of the star Spica.

Evening:  As the sky darkens after sunset, Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest.  Saturn is 4.9° to the upper left of Jupiter.  The Jovian Giant continues to close the gap to Saturn leading up to the Great Conjunction of 2020.  Use a binocular to view Jupiter against the starry background.  Rusty Mars is in the south-southeast in front of the stars of Pisces.  It is retrograding – moving westward compared to the starry background.  This continues for nearly two weeks.  About 9 p.m. look for the bright moon low in the east-northeast.  It is between the horns of Taurus.  Block the moon with your hand to see the dimmer stars of the bull’s horns.

Evening detailed note: One hour after sunset, Saturn is 26.0° up in the south-southwest, 4.9° to the upper left of Jupiter (m = −2.1).  In the starfield, Saturn is 2.1° to the lower left of 56 Sgr, while Jupiter is 4.1° to the lower right of the same star.  Jupiter continues to close the gap toward next month’s conjunction.  In addition, Jupiter is 1.3° to the left of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr). Mars (m = −2.0) is over 22° up in the east.  Among the stars, the planet is 2.2° to the upper right of 80 Piscium (80 Psc) and 3.2° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc). Four hours after sunset (about 8:45 p.m. CST), the moon (18.3 days after the New moon phase, 89% illuminated) – over 19° up in the east-northeast – is between the Horns of Taurus.  Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau, m = 3.0) – the Southern Horn – is 4.3° to the lower left of the moon, while Beta Tauri (β Tau, m = 1.6°) – the Northern Horn – is 6.2° to the upper left of the lunar orb.

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 November.

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

Venus, Mercury, and Spica, November 2, 2020
2020, November 2: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Venus is low in the east-southeast, 4.0° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir). Mercury and the star Spica are near the horizon below Venus. They are 3.9° apart.

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:25 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:43 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in your location.

Today is a heliocentric conjunction for Jupiter and Saturn. As the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn nears, Jupiter passes Saturn if viewed from the sun. Read more here.

Today’s Special Note: Jupiter and Saturn are at heliocentric conjunction today.  They have the same heliocentric longitude, 301°. As viewed from the sun, the planetary pair is in a conjunction.  View from above the solar system, a line drawn from the sun extends through both planets. From our planet, the planets are 5.0° apart.

Morning: Brilliant Venus is less than one-third of the way up in the east-southeast before sunrise.  It is approaching the star Gamma Virginis in the starfield.  This morning, the planet is over 3° to the upper right of that star.  Farther west, the bright moon – 16.7 days after the New moon phase and 97% illuminated – is about one-third of the way up in the west.  It is over 10° to the lower right of the star Aldebaran.  Your fist extended to arm’s length fits between the moon and the star in the sky.

Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Mercury is visible near the star Spica.  Both are very low in the east-southeast. The planet is 3.9° to the lower left of the star.  Find a spot with a clear natural horizon in that direction.  Use a binocular.

Morning detailed note: One hour before sunrise, Venus is over 20° up in the east-southeast.  In the starfield, it is 1.4° to the lower left of η Vir and 4.0° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir). Venus is below a line that connects the two stars.  Farther west, the moon (16.7d, 97%) is 29.0° above the western horizon.  It is 6.1° to the lower left of the Pleiades and 10.6° to the lower right of Aldebaran (α Tau, m = 2.8). Fifteen minutes later, Mercury (m = 0.9) is over 5° up in altitude above the east-southeast horizon, 3.9° to the left of Spica.

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

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, November 2, 2020
2020, November 2: Jupiter is 5.0° to the lower right of Saturn, about one hour after sunset. Look toward the south-southwest.

Evening:  Three bright planets are in the sky this evening.  Mars is in the east-southeast among the dim stars of Pisces.  It continues to retrograde – move westward compared to the stars.  Farther west, Jupiter and Saturn are visible low in the south-southwest.  Jupiter – 5.0° to the lower left of Saturn – continues to inch eastward toward Saturn toward the Great Conjunction of 2020 on December 21.

Evening detailed note: One hour after sunset, Mars is nearly 22° up in the east-southeast.  In the starfield, it is 2.1° to the upper right of 80 Psc and 3.2° to the lower right of ε Psc.  Farther west, Jupiter is about 24° up in the south-southwest.  Dimmer Saturn is 5.0° to the upper left of the Jovian Giant.  In the starfield, Saturn is 2.0° to the upper left of 56 Sgr, while Jupiter is 4.3° to the lower right of that star.  Additionally, Jupiter is 1.2° to the lower left of 50 Sgr.  Three hours after sunset, the moon (17.3d, 94%) is 3.9° to the upper left of Aldebaran and 0.8° to the upper left of Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau, m = 3.5).  With the moon’s brightness, use a binocular to see the Hyades with Aldebaran and ε Tau to the lower right of the lunar orb.

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 November.

Recent Articles

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, November 1: Speedy Mercury, Evening Planets

Venus, Mercury, and Spica, November 1, 2020
2020, November 1: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Venus shines brilliantly from the east-southeastern sky. Mercury is 3.9° to the lower left of Spica, about 4° above the horizon. Use a binocular to see them.

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:24 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:44 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations. (If you observe Daylight Saving Time in the USA, did you set your clock back to standard time, if your region uses it?)

On November 9, Venus and Mars are no longer in the morning sky together for the remainder of the calendar.  They join each other next year in the evening sky.  At 4 a.m. CST, Mars is low in the west and Venus is low in the east.  As Mars leaves the sky in the west, Mercury is making its way into the eastern morning sky with Venus.  Morning Star Venus continues to move eastward in the constellation Virgo.  Use a binocular each morning to see the changing position of the planet.  Farther west, the bright moon is about one-third of the way up in the west-southwest.  The lunar orb is over 16° to the left of Hamal, the brightest star in Aries.

About 45 minutes before sunrise, Venus shines brightly in the eastern sky.  Find a clear horizon and use a binocular to find Mercury very low in the east-southeast.  The star Spica (Virgo) is nearly 4° to the upper right of Mercury. This speedy planet is beginning its best morning appearance of the year, when the plane of the solar system is conveniently tilted to see the first rock from the sun.

Detailed morning note: Two and a half hours before sunrise (4 a.m. CST), Mars (m = −2.1) is over 5° up in the west.  At this hour Venus (m = −4.0) is about the same altitude in the east. This morning the planets are nearly 169° of ecliptic longitude apart.  The Venus – Mars opposition occurs soon.  Next week, Mars sets before Venus rises, leaving Mercury as the second morning planet.  While Mars is low in the west, the moon (15.6d, 100%) is over 30° up in the west-southwest and about the same distance to the upper left of the Red Planet.  The bright moon is in Aries, over 16° to the left of Hamal (α Ari, m = 2.0). At about an hour before sunrise, Venus is over 20° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon. Through a telescope, Venus is 13.1” across and 81% illuminated. The brilliant planet is 0.3° to the lower left of Eta Virginis (η Vir, m = 3.9). Fifteen minutes later, Spica (α Vir, m = 1.0), about 4° up in the east-southeast, is 3.9° to the upper right of Mercury (m = 1.3). A binocular will help with the initial identification of the speedy planet.

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

Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius, November 2, 2020
2020, November 2: Jupiter is 5.0° to the lower right of Saturn, about one hour after sunset. Look toward the south-southwest.

Evening: One hour after sunset, Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest.  Bright Jupiter is 5.0° to the lower right of dimmer Saturn.  Both planets appear as overly bright stars.  They are both slowly moving eastward compared to the stars.  Nightly observations with a binocular show their gentle eastward trek in front of the starry background. Mars is farther eastward at this hour, less than one-third of the way up in the sky.  It continues to retrograde in eastern Pisces.  This apparent motion, compared to the stars, ends later this month. About two hours after sunset, the bright moon is low in the east-northeast. Jupiter sets at about 9:15 p.m. CST, followed by Saturn about 30 minutes later. 

Detailed evening note: An hour after sunset, Jupiter (m = −2.2) is about 24° up in the south-southwest, 5.0° to the lower right of dimmer Saturn (m = 0.6).  Jupiter continues to close in on Saturn before the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.  In the starfield Jupiter is 4.5° to the lower right of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr, m = 4.8) and 1.1° to the lower left of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr, m = 5.6). Saturn is 2.0° to the lower left of 56 Sgr. Mars is 85.3° of ecliptic longitude east of Jupiter. Since its closest approach about a month ago, Mars’ apparent diameter has decreased over 12%. The Red Planet is 21.0° up in the east-southeast, 2.0° to the upper right of 80 Piscium (80 Psc, m = 5.5) and 3.2° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc, m =4.2). Mars continues to retrograde in this dim Pisces starfield. Two hours after sunset, the moon (16.2d, 98%) is over 10° up in the east-northeast.

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 November.

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

Venus in Virgo. October 26, 2020.
2020, October 26: Venus is 0.9° to the lower left of β Vir and 2.0° to the right of 7 Virginis (7 Vir). Use a binocular to observe that Venus is below a line from β Vir to 7 Vir, m = 5.3).

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:17 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:52 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for other locations.

Morning: About two hours before sunrise, find Mars low in the west, while Venus is low in the east.  On November 9, Mars begins setting before Venus rises.  From your observing spot what is the last date you can find both planets in the sky at the same time because of terrestrial obstructions?  Venus rejoins Mars in the evening sky next year.

About an hour before sunrise, Brilliant Venus is in the east-southeast.  It is the brightest “star” in that part of the sky.  Use a binocular to observe that the planet is below a line from Beta Virginis (β Vir on the chart above) to 7 Virginis (7 Vir).

With the binocular watch Venus move eastward (downward compared to these stars) each morning.

Detailed morning note: Two hours before sunrise, Mars is less than 8° in altitude above the western horizon. An hour later, Venus is nearly 22° up in the east-southeast.  It is 0.9° to the lower left of Beta Virginis (β Vir).  Use a binocular to observe that Venus is below a line from β Vir to 7 Virginis (7 Vir).  Venus is 2.0° to the right of 7 Vir. 

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

Mars and the moon, October 26, 2020
2020, October 26: One hour after sunset, the moon is over 30° to the upper right of Mars.

Evening: In the evening, an hour after sunset, three planets are in the sky along with the bright gibbous moon.  Bright Mars is to the left of the moon in the east-southeast.  Jupiter and Saturn are to the right of the moon in the west-southwest.

Mars is retrograding in Pisces.  This apparent westward motion, compared to the distant stars, is from our planet passing and moving away from the Red Planet.

Jupiter and Saturn are moving eastward in Sagittarius.

Use a binocular to make nightly observations to observe the planets’ slow apparent motions.  The binocular may also reveal up to four moons of Jupiter.  They appear as stars next to the planet.

Detailed evening note: One hour after sunset, Mars is over 17° up in the east.  The gibbous moon (10.2 days after New moon, 82% illuminated) – over 24° up in the east-southeast – is 5.0° to the left of δ Aqr.  With the moon’s brightness, use a binocular to see the dimmer starfield.  Farther west, Jupiter is about 25° up in the south-southwest.  Saturn is 5.6° to the upper left of the brighter Jovian Giant.  In the starfield, Jupiter is 4.2° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarius (π Sgr) and 0.6° to the lower left of 50 Sagittarius (50 Sgr).  Saturn is 1.9° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarius (56 Sgr).  Two hours after sunset, Mars is over 28° up in the east-southeast.  Mars is 1.0° to the lower right of 80 Piscium (80 Psc) and 3.2° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc).  At this hour Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwestern sky.

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.

Recent Articles

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 25: Morning Star Venus, Evening Moon, Planets

Venus in Virgo, October 25, 2020
2020, October 25: One hour before sunrise, Venus is 0.9° to the upper left of Beta Virginis (β Vir on the chart above). With a binocular note that Venus, β Vir, and Nu Virginis (ν Vir) nearly make a line.

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:15 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:54 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for other locations.

International Space Station Pass (Chicago, Illinois area) begins at 6:04 a.m. CDT in the west-southwest.  It reaches its highest point about 65° up in the north-northwest at 6:06 a.m. CDT.  It disappears at 6:09 a.m. CDT about 10° up in the northeast.  Find an unobstructed view to the north and east.  The ISS passes near the Pleiades in the west, passes higher in the sky near the star Capella, and passes the Big Dipper in the northeast before it disappears.  The ISS makes a 17 second appearance in the east, altitude 11°, at 4:31 a.m. CDT.

Morning: Mars and Venus appear farther apart in the morning sky.  Venus continues stepping eastward in Virgo as Mars retrogrades in Pisces.  About two hours before sunrise, Mars is nearly 9° up in the west, and Venus has an altitude of 11° in the east.  Mars is no longer seen in the sky at the same time as Venus after November 9 when they are in opposite directions from Earth.  Mars sets as Venus rises, a Venus – Mars opposition.  Mars and Venus are visible in the sky together next spring when both appear in the evening sky.

This morning, about an hour before sunrise, Venus is 0.9° to the upper left of Beta Virginis (β Vir on the chart above).  With a binocular note that Venus, β Vir, and Nu Virginis (ν Vir) nearly make a line.

Today, Mercury is at inferior conjunction, between Earth and Sun.  It rapidly races into the morning sky.  Look for it next month, low in the eastern sky before sunrise, below Venus.  The speedy planet makes its best morning appearance of the year next month.

Detailed morning note: Now setting about 70 minutes before sunrise, Mars is nearly 9° up in the west, two hours before sunrise. At this hour Venus is about 11° up in the east. The Venus – Mars gap is 159.0° of ecliptic longitude.  Within three weeks, Mars sets before Venus rises, a Venus – Mars opposition.  The brilliant planet passes 0.9° to the upper left of Beta Virginis (β Vir).  One hour before sunrise, find them nearly 22° in altitude in the east-southeast.  With a binocular notice that NuVirginis (ν Vir), Venus, and β Vir are nearly in a line. Venus is 3.9° to the lower right of ν Vir. Through a telescope, Venus is 13.6” across and 80% illuminated, a morning gibbous phase. Mercury is at inferior conjunction at 1:23 p.m. CDT.  It quickly emerges into the morning sky for its best morning apparition of the year.  

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

Moon in Aquarius, October 25, 2020
2020, October 25: Two hours after sunset, the gibbous moon appears in the south-southeast, over 15° to the upper right of Fomalhaut. Mars about 45° to the left of the lunar orb. The moon is about midway from Mars to Jupiter.

Evening: The moon and three planets shine during the evening hours.  The bright gibbous moon is among the stars of Aquarius.

One hour after sunset, the moon is in the south-southeast above the star Fomalhaut.  The lunar orb appears nearly between Mars and Jupiter.  Mars is in the east-southeast, while bright Jupiter is in the south-southwest.  Saturn is 5.6° to the upper left of Jupiter.

 (See our Mars summary for October here.)

The giant-planet pair is slowly moving eastward compared to the starry background of Sagittarius.  Jupiter overtakes Saturn on December 21, 2020 for a Great Conjunction.

Detailed evening note:One hour after sunset, the moon (9.2d, 74%) is nearly 26° up in the south-southeast in Aquarius.  Use a binocular to spot Delta Aquarii (δ Aqr, m =3.2), 8.1° to the lower left of the gibbous moon.  Saturn is nearly 27° up in the south, 5.6° to the upper left of bright Jupiter.  Both planets are moving eastward in Sagittarius.  In the starfield, Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).  Jupiter is 4.1° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 0.6° below 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  At this hour, Mars is over 16° up in the east.  The Mars – Jupiter gap is 87.4° of ecliptic longitude.  This gap continues to close until Mars resumes its eastward direction next month.  Then the gap widens relatively quickly.  Two hours after sunset, the Red Planet is over 27° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon.  In the starfield, Mars is 0.9° to the lower right of 80 Piscium (80 Psc) and 3.2° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc).  At this hour, Saturn is nearly 24° up in the south-southwest with Jupiter to its lower right.

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.

Recent Articles

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 24: Morning Star Venus, Evening Planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn

Venus in Virgo, October 24, 2020
2020, October 24: Brilliant Venus shines in front of the stars of Virgo. This morning it is 1.9° above Beta Virginis (β Vir). Notice that the planet is in a line with Denebola – the Lion’s Tail – and Nu Virginis (ν Vir).

Bright Morning Star Venus continues to sparkle in the eastern sky before sunrise.  It shines from in front of the stars of Virgo.  Evening planet Mars appears in the eastern sky while Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest.  The bright gibbous moon shines from the stars of Capricornus.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:14 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:55 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

International Space Station Pass (Chicago, Illinois area) begins at 5:16 a.m. CDT in the south-southeast.  It reaches its highest point about 26° up in the southeast at 5:17 a.m. CDT.  It disappears at 5:20 a.m. CDT about 10° up in the east-northeast.  Find an unobstructed view to the east.  The ISS first appears to the lower left of Sirius and moves toward Venus, passing above the brilliant planet. The station is brighter than Sirius, but dimmer than Venus. 

Mars in Pisces, October 24, 2020
2020, October 24: Mars shines in the west among the stars of Pisces. This morning the Red Planet is 0.7° to the lower left of 80 Piscium (80 Psc), 3.3° to the lower left of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc), and 2.9° to the lower left of Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc).

Morning: Mars is rapidly disappearing from the morning sky.  It is low in the west as Venus rises in the east.  An hour before sunrise, find brilliant Venus in the east-southeast.  It is among the stars of Virgo.  Use a binocular to view it 1.9° above Beta Virginis (β Vir on the chart).  Notice that the planet makes a line with the Lion’s Tail, Denebola, and Nu Virginis (ν Vir). Venus continues to step eastward among the stars.  Use a binocular to watch the planet pass β Vir during the next two mornings.

Venus in Virgo, October 24, 2020
2020, October 24: Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the morning sky in front of the stars of Virgo. It is 1.9° above Beta Virginis (β Vir) and 3.4° to the lower right of Nu Virginis (ν Vir).

Detailed morning note: Ninety minutes before sunrise, Mars is over 4° in altitude in the west.  Thirty minutes later, Venus is 22.0° up in the east-southeast.  It is 1.9° above β Vir.  Notice that Denebola, ν Vir, and Venus are nearly in a line. Venus is 3.4° to the lower right of ν Vir and 11.4° to the lower right of the Lion’s Tail.

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

Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon, October 24, 2020.
2020, October 24: The bright gibbous moon is to the left of the Jupiter – Saturn planet pair. The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.7°.

Evening: As the sky darkens in the evening, the gibbous moon is nearly one-third of the way up in the sky in the south-southeast.  It is among the stars of Capricornus.  Mars is above the tree line and rising higher during the evening.  The planet is retrograding in Pisces.  The westward motion of the planet compared to the starry background of Pisces is from the earth passing Mars and moving away from it. (See our Mars summary for October here.)  Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest in front of the stars of Sagittarius.  Both planets are moving eastward compared to the background stars, but slower than Mars’ motion.  Jupiter catches Saturn for a Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.  Make nightly observations to watch the gap slowly close during the next several weeks.

Detailed evening note:One hour after sunset, the moon (8.2 days past the New moon phase, 65% illuminated) is nearly 26° in altitude in the south-southeast.  It is 4.1° to the lower right of Gamma Capricorni (γ Cap, m = 3.6). Mars is 16.0° up in the east.  Farther west along the ecliptic, Jupiter is nearly 25° up in the south-southwest.  Saturn is 5.7° to the upper left of brighter Jupiter.  In the starfield, Jupiter is 0.6° to the lower left of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr). An hour later, Mars is nearly 27° up in the east-southeast.  In the starfield, the Red Planet is 0.8° to the lower right of 80 Piscium (80 Psc) and 3.2° to the lower right of Epsilon (ε Psc).  The moon is about 28° up in the south with Saturn and Jupiter to the gibbous moon’s lower right.

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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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 23: Last Call for Venus and Mars in Morning Sky

The moon, Jupiter, and Saturn, October 23, 2020
2020, October 23: Venus shines from the eastern sky before sunrise. The planet is 3.2° to the lower right of Nu Virginis (ν Vir) and 3.0° above Beta Virginis (β Vir).

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:13 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:56 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

International Space Station Pass (Chicago, Illinois area) begins at 6:02 a.m. CDT low in the south-southwest.  It reaches its highest point about 44° up in the southeast at 6:05 a.m. CDT.  It disappears at 6:08 a.m. CDT about 10° up in the east-northeast.  Find an unobstructed view to the south and east.  The ISS moves below Sirius in the south-southwest, beneath Regulus and above Venus in the east.  The station is brighter than Sirius and dimmer than Venus.  This is an excellent opportunity to see the passage of the ISS across the sky.

Morning: It’s time to make the “last call” to see Mars and Venus in the morning sky together for the rest of 2020.  Mars is low in the west 90 minutes before sunrise, while Venus is about 15° up in the east. On November 9, the planets are in opposition – appear in opposite directions in the sky.  Mars sets in the west as Venus rises in the east.  What is the last day you see Venus in the eastern sky and Mars in the western morning sky? When Venus moves back into the evening sky next year, they again appear in the sky at the same time.  As Venus rises higher, the starfield of Virgo becomes easier to see.  The planet is near the stars Nu Virginis (ν Vir) and Beta Virginis (β Vir).

Detailed morning note: Ninety minutes before sunrise, Mars is over 5° up in the west. The planet sets one hour before sunrise this morning.  At this hour, brilliant Venus is over 22° in altitude in the east-southeast. Venus is in Virgo. It moves through the constellation in 36 days. In the starfield, the planet is 3.2° to the lower right of ν Vir and 3.0° above β Vir. The moon reaches its First Quarter phase at 8:23 a.m. CDT.

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

Venus in Virgo, October 23, 2020
2020, October 23: The slightly gibbous moon is about 11° to the lower left of Saturn in the southern sky about one hour after sunset. The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.8°.

Evening: Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky.  Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest as a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.  The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.8°.  Saturn is to the upper left of Jupiter. The planets are slowly moving eastward compared to the starry background of eastern Sagittarius.  (See the starry background for Jupiter and Saturn here.) Jupiter sets in the southwest before 10:45 p.m. CDT.  The slightly gibbous moon is to the lower left of Saturn. Farther eastward, bright Mars is retrograding among dim stars in Pisces. The Red Planet sets tomorrow morning about an hour before sunrise. (See our Mars summary for October here.)

Detailed evening note:One hour after sunset, the slightly gibbous moon (7.2 days after the New moon phase, 55% illuminated), 25.0° up in the south in southwest Capricornus, is 11° to the lower left of Saturn.  The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.8°. In the starfield, Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sgr.  Jupiter is 3.9° to the lower left of π Sgr and 0.6° below 50 Sgr.  At this hour, Mars is over 15° in altitude in the east. Two hours after sunset, Mars is 25° in altitude in the east-southeast. The Red Planet is 0.8° to the lower right of 80 Psc and 3.4° to the lower right of ε 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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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 22: Morning Star Venus in Leo, Evening Planets and Moon

October 22 Photos:

Mars in Pisces, October 22, 2020
2020, October 22: Rusty Mars – shining from the east – is 0.9° below 80 Piscium (80 Psc).

Jupiter, Saturn, Moon, October 22, 2020
2020, October 22: The nearly first quarter moon, overexposed in the image above, makes a nice triangle with Jupiter and Saturn. The planets are 5.9° apart. The moon is 4.4° to the lower left of Jupiter and 4.2° to the lower right of Saturn.
Venus in Leo, October 22, 2020
2020, October 22: One hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is in the east-southeast. It is near the stars Tau Leonis (τ Leo on the chart.), Nu Leonis (ν Leo), and Beta Virginis (β Vir). Use a binocular to spot the bright planet with the dimmer stars in the background.

Bright Mars is visible in the western sky before sunrise. Brilliant Venus makes its last appearance in Leo for this morning apparition. In the evening sky, the crescent moon is near Jupiter and Saturn, while bright Mars begins the night in the east-southeast.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:12 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:58 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

Morning: Bright Mars dims slightly compared to its brightest nights over two weeks ago.  The planet is in the western sky about 90 minutes before sunrise.  It appears lower as Venus rises in the east.  This is the last morning for Venus in front of the stars of Leo.  Use a binocular to spot it among a dimmer starfield. Tomorrow it moves into Virgo.

Detailed morning note: Mars (m = −2.4) is about 7° up in the west, ninety minutes before sunrise. Mars is in the evening sky after sunset this evening.  As twilight progresses, look for Venus over 20° up in the east-southeast. In the starfield, it is 2.3° to the lower left of Tau Leonis (τ Leo) to the right of Nu Virginis (ν Vir), and 4.2° above Beta Virginis (β Vir). Tomorrow morning, Venus appears in Virgo.

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

The moon in Sagittarius, October 20-22, 2020.
2020: October 20-22: The moon is visible in the southern sky after sunset. On October 20, it is visible between Antares and Kaus Borealis. October 21, the lunar crescent is between Kaus Borealis and Nunki. On October 22, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn.

Evening: Bright Mars is well up in the eastern sky this evening in front of the stars of Pisces.  A binocular is helpful to observe the Red Planet against the distant starry background.  The thick crescent moon is in the south-southwest near Jupiter and Saturn.  It is to the lower left of Jupiter and lower right of Saturn.

Detailed evening note:One hour after sunset, the thick crescent moon (6.2 days after the New moon phase, 44% illuminated), 23° up in the south, makes a nice triangle with Jupiter and Saturn (m = 0.6).  The crescent is 4.4° to the lower left of Jupiter and 4.2° to the lower right of Saturn.  The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.9°. In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.8° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 0.7° below 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr). At this hour, Mars is nearly 15° up in the east.  About an hour later when it is higher in the sky (26° altitude), use a binocular to spot the Red Planet 0.9° below 80 Piscium (80 Psc).

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

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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 21: Morning Star Venus, Evening Crescent Moon

Venus in Leo, October 21, 2020
2020, October 21: Morning Star Venus is in the eastern sky before sunrise. This morning it passes 10.9° to the lower right of Denebola, the Tail of Leo. It is 4.0° to the upper right of Nu Virginis (ν Vir).

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:11 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:59 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

International Space Station Pass (Chicago, Illinois area) begins at 6:02 a.m. CDT low in the south.  It reaches its highest point about 16° up in the southeast at 6:04 a.m. CDT.  It disappears at 6:06 a.m. CDT about 10° up in the east.  Find an unobstructed view to the south and east.  The ISS moves below Venus.

Morning: Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the eastern sky before sunrise.  It continues to step eastward in front of the stars of Leo.  It passes the Lion’s tail, Denebola, is morning, although the separation is nearly 11°.  Your fist extended to arm’s length should fit between the blazing planet and the star. 

In a few mornings, Venus moves into Virgo.  This morning it is 4.0° to the upper right of Nu Virginis (ν Vir on the chart.)

One hour before sunrise Mars is low in the west. The planets are approaching their opposition (Venus – Mars opposition).  When Mars sets in the morning, Venus rises in the east.  After early November, Mars sets before Venus rises.  Mercury begins a morning appearance during early November, joining Venus in the eastern sky.  Mars returns to the eastern sky after sunset this evening.

Detailed morning note: Venus passes 10.9° to the lower right of Denebola (β Leo, m = 2.1). In the starfield closer to Venus, the planet is 3.0° to the lower left of σ Leo and 1.8° to the upper left of τ Leo.  In a few mornings, Venus moves into Virgo.  This morning Venus is 4.0° to the upper right of Nu Virginis (ν Vir, m = 4.0). One hour before sunrise, find the brilliant planet over 22° up in the east-southeast. If you have a clear horizon to the west, you might find bright Mars over 2° above the horizon.  

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

The moon in Sagittarius, October 20-22, 2020.
2020: October 20-22: The moon is visible in the southern sky after sunset. On October 20, it is visible between Antares and Kaus Borealis. October 21, the lunar crescent is between Kaus Borealis and Nunki. On October 22, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn.

Evening: The sun is now setting for Chicago before 6 p.m. CDT.  When does it set before 6 p.m. at your location?

Bright Mars appears in the eastern sky after sunset, while Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest.  The crescent moon that is 5.2 days after the New moon phase and 33% illuminated appears in Sagittarius to the west (right) of Jupiter and Saturn.  The moon is between Kaus Borealis and Nunki. Because of the moon’s brightness and their proximity to the horizon, use a binocular to see the starfields with the moon and planets.

Mars is retrograding among the dim stars of Pisces.  This motion is an illusion as our planet passed the Red Planet (opposition) last week and pulls away. (See our Mars summary for October here.)

The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 6.0°.  Jupiter continues to inch toward Saturn for the Great Conjunction of 2020. (See the starry background for Jupiter and Saturn here.)

For the evening planets, use a binocular each clear evening to spot the planets’ positions compared to the starry background.

Detailed evening note:One hour after sunset, the crescent moon (5.2d, 33%), nearly 20° up in the south-southwest, is over 10° to the lower right of Jupiter.  The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 6.0°.  Look carefully at the moon’s location in Sagittarius.  It is nearly between Kaus Borealis and Nunki (σ Sgr) and 1.7° to the upper right of Phi Sagittarii (φ Sgr).  In the starfield, Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr), while Jupiter is 3.7° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 0.8° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  An hour later, Mars is 25.0° up in the east-southeast.  It continues to retrograde in Pisces.  This evening it is 1.0° to the lower left of 80 Psc and 2.0° to the upper right of 89 Psc – slightly to the right of a line that connects the two stars.

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.

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

The moon in Sagittarius, October 20-22, 2020.
2020: October 20-22: The moon is visible in the southern sky after sunset. On October 20, it is visible between Antares and Kaus Borealis. October 21, the lunar crescent is between Kaus Borealis and Nunki. On October 22, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn.

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:09 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:01 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

Morning: Morning Star Venus continues to gleam in the eastern sky before sunrise.  It is over 11° to the lower right of Denebola – the Tail of Leo.  When you extend your closed fist to arm’s length, then it should cover nearly all the space between the brilliant planet and the star.  Use a binocular to see Venus among the dimmer stars.  Bright Mars is very low in the west.  Early next month, Venus rises as Mars sets, a Venus – Mars opposition.  The planets are on opposite parts of the sky.  What is the last date that you can see them together in the morning sky?  The Red Planet returns to the eastern sky after sunset. See our detailed chart for Venus in October here.

Detailed morning note: One hour before sunrise, Venus is over 22° up in the east-southeast, moving eastward in Leo. Among the stars it is 1.9° below Sigma Leonis (σ Leo) and 2.0° to the upper left of Tau Leonis (τ Leo). Through a telescope, Venus is 13.9” in apparent diameter and 78% illuminated – a morning gibbous. Mars – about 4° up in the west – is 170.8° of ecliptic longitude west of Venus.

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

Evening: In the south-southwest about an hour after sunset, the crescent moon – 4.2 days after its New moon phase and 23% illuminated – is between Antares – the Heart of the Scorpion – and the Teapot of Sagittarius.  The Teapot, along with the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Sickle of Leo, and many other shapes, is an asterism.  An asterismis group of stars that makes a familiar shape that is often part of a constellation.  Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr) is the star at the top of the Teapot shape.  Use a binocular for a clearer look.  Jupiter and Saturn are farther to the left of the star.  The planets are 6.0° apart.  They are moving eastward compared to the starry background.  During the next few weeks, watch Jupiter dramatically cut the distance to Saturn in a prelude to their Great Conjunction.  Jupiter sets in the southwest at about 11 p.m. and Saturn follows about 30 minutes later. Bright Mars is in the east-southeast among the dim stars of Pisces.  It is retrograding – moving westward compared to the starry background.  This is an illusion from our planet passing Mars.  Opposition was a week ago. The Red Planet is south near midnight and sets in the west before sunrise.

Detailed evening note: One hour after sunset the moon (4.2d, 23%) – nearly 16° up in the south-southwest – is above a line from Antares to Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr, m = 2.8), the star at the top of the lid of the Teapot of Sagittarius.  The gaps: Moon – Kaus Borealis, 10.9°; Moon – Antares, 15.9°.  Look carefully for Antares as it is only 6° in altitude in the southwest.  Farther eastward, Jupiter is about 25° up in the south-southwest.  The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 6.0°.   In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.6° to the lower left of π Sgr and 0.8° to the lower right of 50 Sgr.  Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sgr.  At this hour, Mars is nearly 14° in altitude in the south-southeast, 89.3° of ecliptic longitude east of Jupiter.  An hour later, the Red Planet is nearly 25° up in the east-southeast.  It is left of a line from 80 Psc to 89 Psc.  The planet is 1.2° to the lower left of 80 Psc and 1.8° above 89 Psc. Through a telescope, Mars is 21.8” 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.

Recent Articles

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.