Tag Archives: Saturn

2020, October 19: Arcturus Helical Rising, 4 Planets

The helical rising of Arcturus
2020, October 19: Look for Arcturus low in the northeast about 45 minutes before sunrise. Follow the curve of the Big Dipper’s handle to the star. Locate a clear horizon and use a binocular.

Arcturus returns to the morning sky – its helical rising.  Morning Star Venus and Mars are visible before sunrise.  Evening planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible after sunset.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:08 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:02 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

Morning:  Brilliant Morning Star Venus continues to shine from the eastern sky before sunrise.  Now rising at 4 a.m. CDT, the sparkling planet is less than one-third of the way up in the east-southeast, 2 hours later.  It is stepping through the stars of Leo.  See our detailed chart for Venus in October here.

When Venus rises, Mars is the bright rusty-colored star that is about one-third of the way up in the west-southwest.  It is retrograding – moving westward compared to the starry background – among the dim stars in Pisces.

The star Arcturus is now seen in both the morning sky – low in the east-northeast – about 45 minutes before sunrise. Use a binocular to see it. After sunset, it also appears in the west after sunset.  The curve of the Big Dipper’s handle points to the star.  In the morning the dipper is standing on its handle in the northeastern sky.  In the evening the pattern is low in the northwest, possibly behind the neighbor’s house or the neighborhood trees.

This first morning appearance is known as the heliacal rising.

Detailed morning note: One hour before sunrise, Venus – over 22° in altitude in the east-southeast – is 0.8° to the lower right of Sigma Leonis (σ Leo).  Mars is 5.0° up in the west. Try to find Arcturus low in the east-northeast, 45 minutes before sunrise.  Can you see it without a binocular?  This is the heliacal rising of Arcturus.

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

The crescent moon and Antares, October 19, 2020
2020, October 19: The crescent moon (3.2 days after the New moon phase, 14% illuminated) is 4.9° to the upper right of Antares. Look low in the southwest about an hour after sunset.

Evening: Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are evening planets.  Mars is visible low in the east as the sky darkens.  As noted above, it is among the stars of Pisces.  The planet is nearly in the sky all night long.  Find it in the south as midnight approaches.  Jupiter and Saturn are in the south after sunset.  Jupiter is brighter than Saturn and nearly the same visual intensity as Mars.  The giant planets are seen against the starry background of eastern Sagittarius.  With a binocular, make observations each clear evening to note their changing positions compared to the stars.  Jupiter is 6.1° to the lower right of dimmer Saturn. (See a chart here.)

As the sky darkens look for the crescent moon that is 3.2 days past the New moon phase and 14% illuminated.  It is 4.9° to the upper right of Antares, the Heart of the Scorpion.

Detailed evening note: One hour after sunset, the Red Planet is nearly 13° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon.  Saturn is nearly 27° up in the south and 6.1° to the upper left of bright Jupiter.  In the starfield, Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr).  Jupiter is 3.5° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 0.9° to the lower right of Sagittarii (50 Sgr). (See a chart here.)  The moon (3.2 days after the New moon phase, 14% illimunated) – over 10° in altitude in the southwest – is 4.9° to the upper right of Antares.  Two hours after sunset, Mars is nearly 24° up in the east-southeast.  It has nearly the same altitude as Saturn, now in the south-southwest. The Red Planet is 2.5° to the lower right of Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc) to the upper left of 89 Piscium (89 Psc), and 1.5° to the lower left of 80 Piscium (80 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 18: Crescent Moon in West

Moon and Antares, October 18, 2020
2020, October 18: Thirty minutes after sunset, the moon (2.2 days after the New moon phase and 7% illuminated) is low in the southwest, nearly 15° to the right of Antares – the Heart of the Scorpion.

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:07 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:04 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

Morning: Brilliant Venus and bright Mars continue to separate in the morning sky.  Venus rises in the east at about 4 a.m. CDT.  As morning twilight begins and grows brighter, the brilliant planet rises higher in the east and Mars, in the sky nearly all night, is low in the west.  What is the last date you see them together?  Mars sets as Venus rises (Venus – Mars opposition) on November 9.  Depending on the obstructions – trees, houses, or buildings – where you live and the clouds that are present near the horizon, you may be able to follow them until a few mornings before opposition. Both planets can be seen when near the horizon because of their brightness. Venus continues to step eastward in Leo.  See a detailed chart here.

Detailed morning note: Venus is 0.7° to the upper right of σ Leo.  One hour before sunrise, Venus is over 23° up in the east-southeast. At this time, Mars (m = −2.5) is 6.0° in altitude above the western horizon.  Forty-five minutes before sunrise, begin looking for Arcturus, low in the east-northeast.  Use a binocular.

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

Evening:  Begin looking for the moon low in the south-southwest about 30 minutes after sunset.  Find a clear horizon.  The star Antares – the Heart of the Scorpion – is at about the same altitude as the lunar crescent, but about 15° to the left.  Your fist extended to arm’s length, covers about 10°, from the pinky finger to the thumb knuckle.  As the sky darkens further, you should be able to pick out the crescent moon and the star without optical help.  Moving farther south along the horizon, Jupiter and Saturn are less than one-third of the way up in the sky.  They are 6.2° apart.  Both planets are moving slowly eastward compared to the background stars in Sagittarius.  Jupiter is slowly overtaking the Ringed Wonder and catches it on December 21, 2020.  Bright Mars is in the eastern sky among the dim stars of Pisces.  It is retrograding, moving westward compared to the stars, in Pisces – an illusion as Earth passes the outer planets.  Use a binocular to make nightly observations of the planets compared to the starry background.

Detailed evening note: One hour after sunset, the moon (2.2 days after the New moon phase, 7% illuminated) is about 5° in altitude in the west-southwest and nearly 15° to the right of Antares (α Sco, m = 1.0).  Farther eastward, Jupiter is over 25° up in the south, with Saturn 6.2° to its upper left.  Both planets are moving eastward in Sagittarius.  In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.5° to the lower left of Pi Sagittarii (π Sgr) and 1.0° to the lower right of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr).  Saturn is 1.8° to the lower left of 56 Sagittarii (56 Sgr). Now it seems that a race is underway for Jupiter to catch up to and pass Saturn before the pair disappears into evening twilight.  Mars is 12° up in the east-southeast.  An hour later, the Red Planet is over 23° in altitude. This evening it is to the right of an imaginary line that connects Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc) and 89 Piscium (89 Psc).  The planet is 2.5° to the lower right of ζ Psc and 1.6° to the upper left of 89 Psc.  Additionally, Mars is 1.7° to the lower left of 80 Piscium (80 Psc, m =5.5) and 4.1° below Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc, m = 4.2).  Use a binocular to spot the planet in the dim starfield.

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 17: Moon Returns to Evening Sky

The crescent moon, October 17, 2020.
2020, October 17: Thirty minutes after sunset, the thin crescent moon is visible low in the west-southwest.

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:06 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:05 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in different locations.

Morning: An hour before sunrise brilliant Venus is visible less than one-third of the way up in the sky in the east-southeast.  The planet is stepping eastward in front of the stars of Leo, near three dimmer stars Chi Leonis (χ Leo), Sigma Leonis (σ Leo) and Iota Leonis (ι Leo).  Use a binocular to find Venus with the stars.  At this time, bright Mars is low in the west.

Spica rises at sunrise this morning – its Cosmic Rising – while Arcturus is at its solar conjunction today, as the sun and star share the same celestial longitude.  It’s hardly a conjunction in the traditional sense.  Arcturus is over 30° north of the sun.

Detailed morning note: One hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is over 23° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon. Moving eastward in Leo, the brilliant planet is 2.4° below χ Leo, 1.8° to the upper right of σ Leo, and 5.0° to the lower right of ι Leo.  While bright, Mars is about 7° up in the west.  How much longer can you see it at this time interval before sunrise?

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

Evening:  In the evening, look for the crescent moon low in the west-southwest, 30 minutes after sunset.  Find a good location to view the natural horizon.  Jupiter and Saturn are in the south, 6.3° apart.  Jupiter continues to slowly close the gap to the Ringed Wonder. Use a binocular to view Jupiter and Saturn against the starfield of eastern Sagittarius.  Mars – just past its opposition with the sun – continues to retrograde in Pisces.  The planet climbs into the eastern sky as the night progresses.  Find it in the western sky tomorrow morning.

Detailed evening note: Thirty minutes after sunset, the moon (1.2d, 3%) is nearly 4° up in the west-southwest. Saturn is 90° east of the sun.  One hour after sunset, it is 27° up in the south, now past the meridian at this time interval.  The Ringed Wonder is 6.3° to the upper left of Jupiter (m = −2.2).  In the starfield, Jupiter is 3.3° to the lower left of π Sgr and 1.1° to the lower right of 50 Sgr.  Saturn is 1.7° to the lower left of 56 Sgr. An hour later, Mars is over 22° up in the east-southeast.  ζ Psc, Mars, and 89 Psc are in a line.  Mars is 2.5° to the lower right of ζ Psc and 1.5° to the upper left of 89 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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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 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.

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 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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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 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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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 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.

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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, 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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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, September 25: Saturn and Moon

Saturn, Moon, Jupiter, September 25, 2020
September 25: One hour after sunset, the moon is 3.7° to the lower left of Saturn.

During early evening hours of September 25, the moon appears near Saturn in the southern sky.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

During the evening hours of September 25, the moon appears 3.7° to the lower left of Saturn.  The gibbous moon is over 70% illuminated.

Jupiter, Saturn, Moon, September 25, 2020.
2020, September 25: The gibbous moon (overexposed in the photo) appears 3.7° to the lower left of Saturn. Jupiter is 7.6° to the lower right of Saturn.

Jupiter is 7.6° to the lower right of Saturn. 

As seen from the sun, Jupiter passes Saturn in a heliocentric conjunction on November 2. This is a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, when Jupiter passes very closely to Saturn. While the planetary pair appears close in the sky, they are hundreds of millions of miles apart in space.

A Great Conjunction occurs every 19.6 years. The last one occurred in 2000. The next Jupiter – Saturn conjunction occurs October 31, 2040, when the two planets rise into the eastern morning sky. The gap is 1.1°. At this year’s conjunction, the two planets appear ten times closer.

While other conjunctions have occurred, this year’s conjunction is the closest Jupiter – Saturn conjunction since 1623.  That year’s conjunction occurred after the invention of the telescope and during very bright evening twilight.  Read our article about whether it was observed.

Read more about the planets during September and October.

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2020, September 24: Jupiter, Moon, Teapot

On September 24, the Moon visits the “Teapot” shape of Sagittarius with the moon nearby.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

During the early evening of September 24, look in the south for the gibbous moon that is 60% illuminated.  Bright Jupiter is 4.2° to the upper left of the lunar orb. Dimmer Saturn is to Jupiter’s upper left.

Look carefully at the stars to the lower right of the gibbous moon.  They are the main stars of the constellation Sagittarius. The stars resemble a kitchen teapot.  The star Nunki, cataloged as Sigma Sagittarii (σ Sgr), is part of the Teapot’s handle.  Use a binocular, if necessary, to see the shape.

Jupiter is moving eastward compared to the starry background.  Saturn retrogrades, an illusion of moving westward that occurs when the faster moving Earth passes between the sun and the slower moving outer planets.

Next week, Saturn resumes its eastward motion as Jupiter continues to close the gap to the Ringed Wonder toward their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. This is the closest conjunction since the Jupiter – Saturn conjunction of 1623.  Great Conjunctions occur every 19.6 years, but this is the closest for nearly 400 years.

Here’s where the moon is on the next evening.

Read more about the planets during September and October.

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