Tag: Saturn

2020: The Morning Sky

2020 Rising Chart

This chart shows the summary of the rising of the naked-eye planets, moon, and bright stars near the ecliptic, the plane of the solar system, for 2020. The chart shows the rising of these celestial bodies compared to sunrise for time intervals up to five hours before the sun’s appearance. The three phases of twilight are displayed as well. On this chart, activity occurs in the eastern sky, except for the setting curves (circles) of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. When they set in the west at sunrise, they are at opposition.

Early in the year, the morning sky offers the three Bright Outer Planets – Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars – in the eastern predawn sky. As Mars moves eastward it passes Antares, Jupiter and Saturn. On several mornings, the moon passes the planetary trio. The highlight occurs on the morning of February 18 as the moon occults Mars as sunrise approaches in the Central U.S. Venus enters the morning sky at mid-year. The appearance of a lunar crescent with the brilliant planet is a beautiful sight. The moon appears with Mercury as the planet enters the morning sky in late July. On the morning of July 19, the moon and the five naked eye planets are in the sky. As the moon moves toward its evening appearance, Mercury appears higher in the sky, making it a little easier to see. Venus reaches its period of greatest brightness; the mid-brightness date is marked by the yellow diamond. Venus moves past Aldebaran, Pollux, Regulus, and Spica as it moves towards its superior conjunction in early 2021. Mercury’s best morning appearance occurs during November. While this is its smallest morning elongation, the angle of the ecliptic places it higher in the sky.

The chart is calculated from data by the U.S. Naval Observatory, for Chicago, Illinois.

Key to symbols: White square, conjunction; yellow triangle, greatest elongation (GE); yellow diamond, greatest brightness (GB).

2020, January: Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars in the Morning, In Advance of the Great Conjunction

During January 2020, Mars is joined by Jupiter in the morning. Saturn is at its solar conjunction and invisible to us because of the sun’s glare.

Click here for our article about the 2020 Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.

Jupiter and Saturn are in the same region of the sky. Jupiter is among the brightest “stars” in the night sky while Saturn is dimmer.  Mars varies in its brightness.  When near Earth later this year, it outshines Jupiter, but during January it is dimmer in the eastern sky, and easily overlooked.

Jupiter makes its first morning appearance late in the month, joining Mars as morning planets. Saturn passes its solar conjunction near mid-month and slowly crawls into the morning sky.

  • January 5: Mars is less than one-third of the way up in the sky about one hour before sunrise.  The planet is not very bright compared to our expectations.  It is near the stars of Scorpius.  This morning it is to the upper right of the star Graffias.  Compare Mars’ brightness and color to Antares, sometimes known as the “Rival of Mars.”  During the next several mornings, watch Mars move past Graffias and far above Antares.
  • January 7: Jupiter is beginning to move into the morning sky, but it rises only about 30 minutes before sunrise.  Look for it later in the month.
  • January 13: Saturn is at its solar conjunction.  It is hidden in the sun’s glare.  We won’t see it for several weeks.

  • January 20: This morning, the old moon is above Mars. Notice how far Mars has moved during the past several mornings.  During bright twilight, about 30 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter is just above the southeast horizon.  You’ll need a binocular to see it, as well as the crescent moon and Mars.
  • January 22: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Jupiter is about 4° up in the southeast. The crescent moon (27.2d, 6%) is 7° to the upper right of Jupiter.
  • January 24: Saturn rises during bright twilight and its very difficult to see.

  • January 28: About 45 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter is low in the southeast.  Use a binocular to locate Mars with Antares to its right.

Next Month, Saturn becomes visible as Jupiter and Saturn head toward their once-in-a-generation Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.

2019, December 10: Evening Star Venus Passes Saturn

The brilliant Evening Star Venus passes Saturn this evening. They appear in the southwest as the sky darkens. This evening, Venus is 1.8° to the lower left of Saturn.  Watch Venus move away from Saturn during the month.  Saturn disappears into the sun’s glare and reappears in the morning sky by the end of February 2020.

Venus continues its appearance in the evening sky.  Watch it during the next several months.

Read more about Venus as an Evening Star:

2019, December 3: Evening Star Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn

The image above shows Brilliant Evening Star Venus, Jupiter and Saturn about an hour after sunset. Venus is nearly midway between Jupiter and Saturn, but they are not along the same arc in the sky: Venus – Saturn, 8.6°; Venus – Jupiter, 9.7°.   Watch Venus continue to close in and pass Saturn on December 10.  (See the link below.)

Jupiter is becoming more difficult to observe at this time interval after sunset. This evening, it is less than 5° in altitude.

Read more about Venus as an Evening Star at these links:

2019, November 25, 2019: Evening Star Venus and Jupiter

 

One night past their conjunction, Venus appears to the left of Jupiter this evening about 45 minutes after sunset.  Venus continues to move away from Jupiter and toward Saturn.  Venus passes the Ringed Wonder on December 10.  Meanwhile, look for the crescent moon and Venus on November 28, Thanksgiving evening in the U.S.  See the links below for more details.

Read more about Venus as an Evening Star at these links:

2019: November 21-30: Venus-Jupiter Conjunction, Venus and the Moon & Moon, Mars and Mercury

Morning Sky

The moon passes two bright planets at the end of November.  Start watching on November 21 as the moon approaches them.  Notice each morning that the moon is lower in the sky and its crescent is thinner as it approaches its New Moon phase.

  • November 21: An hour before sunrise, the thinning moon, 32% illuminated, is 50° up in the southeast, is nearly 8° to the lower right of Denebola, the Tail of Leo. Mars is below the moon, over 13° up in the east-southeast. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury is nearly 7° up in the east-southeast.

  • November 22: An hour before sunrise, the crescent moon, 21% illuminated, is about 40° up in the southeast, 5.5° above the star. At the same time, Mars is below the moon, about 13° up in the east-southeast. Mercury is over 5° up in the east-southeast, about 10° to the lower left of Mars.

  • November 23: One hour before sunrise, the moon, 12% illuminated, is nearly 8° to the upper left of Spica. Mercury is over 6° up in the east, over 9° to the lower left of Mars.

  • November 24: One hour before sunrise, the thin crescent moon, only 6% illuminated, is 3.7° to the upper left of Mars, 15° up in the east-southeast. Mars is about midway between Spica and Mercury; Mercury – Mars, 9.5°; Mars – Spica, 9.7°. Tomorrow morning, at the closest approach, Mercury and Mars have about the same separation.

Evening Sky

Venus passes Jupiter on November 24, A few evening evenings later the crescent moon passes Venus for its closest approach during this appearance of Venus.

  • November 24: This evening is the Venus – Jupiter conjunction! Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus, nearly 7° up in the southwest, is 1.4° to the lower left of Jupiter . The next Venus – Jupiter conjunction is February 11, 2021 when the planets are less than 0.5° apart, but this Epoch (close) Conjunction occurs during bright morning twilight. On April 30, 2022, another morning Epoch Conjunction brings the planets within 29’ of each other.

  • November 28:  In the evening, at mid-twilight (about 45 minutes after sunset), Venus (−3.9) and the moon, 6% illuminated) have a classic appearance, with Venus 1.9° to the lower right of the moon. This is the smallest separation between the moon and Venus during this apparition of the planet. Next month, the Moon – Venus gap is 2.4° and widens each month thereafter during this appearance. Venus and the moon appear in the viewfinder of a camera with a 300 mm focal length lens. A longer exposure reveals Earthshine on the moon. At this time, Venus is about 7° up in the southwest and 4.7° to the upper left of Jupiter. The moon is 5.8° to the upper left of Jupiter.

Day-By-Day Description

This text was first published in the TCAA Observer.

  • November 21: An hour before sunrise, the moon (24.3d, 32%), 50° up in the southeast, is nearly 8° to the lower right of Denebola (β Leo, m =2.1). Mars is below the moon, over 13° up in the east-southeast. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury (m = 0.1) is nearly 7° up in the east-southeast. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus, over 8° up in the southwest, is8° to the lower right of Jupiter.
  • November 22: An hour before sunrise, the crescent moon (25.3d, 21%) is about 40° up in the southeast, 5.5° above Gamma Virginis (γ Vir, m = 3.4). At the same time, Mars is below the moon, about 13° up in the east-southeast. Mercury (m = − 0.1) is over 5° up in the east-southeast, about 10° to the lower left of Mars. Thirty minutes after sunset, the Venus – Jupiter gap is 2.1°. Venus is over 8° up in the southwest.
  • November 23: The moon is at perigee at 1:41 a.m. CST, 227,867 miles away. One hour before sunrise, the moon (26.3d, 12%) is nearly 8° to the upper left of Spica. Mercury (m = −0.2) is over 6° up in the east, over 9° to the lower left of Mars. Today Venus moves into Sagittarius. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus, nearly 9° up in the southwest, is 1.5° to the lower left of Jupiter.
  • November 24: One hour before sunrise, the crescent moon (27.3d, 6%) is 3.7° to the upper left of Mars, 15° up in the east-southeast. Mars is about midway between Spica and Mercury (m = −0.4); Mercury – Mars, 9.5°; Mars – Spica, 9.7°. Tomorrow morning, at the closest approach, Mercury and Mars have about the same separation, although the gap is neither a conjunction nor a quasi-conjunction. At a quasi-conjunction, the planets are within 5°. At a conjunction, they must pass each other in either Right Ascension or ecliptic longitude. Today is the Venus – Jupiter conjunction! Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus, nearly 7° up in the southwest, is 1.4° to the lower left of Jupiter (m = −1.8). The next Venus – Jupiter conjunction is February 11, 2021 when the planets are less than 0.5° apart, but this Epoch (close) Conjunction occurs during bright morning twilight. On April 30, 2022, another morning Epoch Conjunction brings the planets within 29’ of each other. Tonight, Venus sets at its southern-most azimuth, 236°. It sets here until December 1. The planet is nearly 1.5° below the ecliptic. Jupiter sets at Astronomical Twilight (sun’s altitude, −18°), 98 minutes after sunset.
  • November 25: One hour before sunrise, Mars (m = 1.7) is 15° up in the southeast, 9.5° to the upper right of bright Mercury (m = −0.3), 7° in altitude. The thin crescent moon (28.3d, 2%) is 5.5° to the lower left of Mercury. You’ll need a clear horizon to see the moon. It’s only 3° in altitude. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus, over 7° up in the southwest, is 2.0° to the left of Jupiter. Fifteen minutes later, Saturn is 17° up in the southwest, 19° to the upper left of Jupiter.
  • November 26: One hour before sunrise, Mars, nearly 15° up in the east-southeast, is nearly 10° to the upper right of Mercury (m = −0.5). The moon is at its New phase at 9:06 a.m. CST. As evening twilight progresses, attempt to locate Venus 0.6° to the lower left of the Lagoon Nebula (M8, NGC 6530). This is certainly a stretch with the nebula low in the sky and during latter twilight. Venus is 5° up in the southwest, 1 hour after sunset. It is 2.8° to the upper left of Jupiter. This evening Venus sets at the end of twilight when the sun is 18° below the horizon. Venus sets after the end of evening twilight until May 19, 2020.
  • November 27: One hour before sunrise, Mercury, over 7° up in the east-southeast, is 2.1° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi (α Lib, m = 2.8). Use a binocular. Watch Mercury pass the star and move away from it during the next few mornings. At the same time, Mars is nearly 10° to the upper right of Mercury. Thirty minutes after sunset look for the crescent moon (1.3d, 2%), about 5° up in the southwest. It is nearly 11° to the lower right of Venus, with Jupiter between them, but Jupiter is closer to Venus. The planets are 3.7° apart.
  • November 28: Mercury reaches its greatest morning elongation (20.1°) at 4:27 a.m. CST. One hour before sunrise, Mercury (m = −0.6), about 7° up in the east-southeast, is 2.1° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi. This morning’s distance is slightly larger than yesterday’s separation, when fractions of a degree are considered. Mars is over 10° to the upper right of Mercury. In the evening, at mid-twilight (about 45 minutes after sunset), Venus (−3.9) and the moon (2.3d, 6.3%) have a classic appearance, with Venus 1.9° to the lower right of the moon. This is the smallest separation between the moon and Venus during this apparition of the planet. Next month, the Moon – Venus gap is 2.4° and widens each month thereafter during this appearance. Venus and the moon appear in the viewfinder of a camera with a 300 mm focal length lens. A longer exposure reveals Earthshine on the moon. At this time, Venus is about 7° up in the southwest and 4.7° to the upper left of Jupiter. The moon is 5.8° to the upper left of Jupiter.
  • November 29: One hour before sunrise, Mercury, over 6° up in the east-southeast, is 2.6° to the lower left of Zubenelgenubi. Mars is over 10° to Mercury’s upper right. Venus is at its most southerly declination, −24.8°. One hour after sunset, this brilliant planet is over 6° up in the southwest and over 5° to the upper left of Jupiter. The moon (3.3d, 12%) is 14° up in the southwest, 1.7° to the lower left of Saturn.
  • November 30: One hour before sunrise, Mars, 15° in altitude in the southeast, is 0.2° to the lower left of Lambda Virginis (λ Vir, m = 2.8). Mercury is nearly 11° to Mars’ lower left. The speedy planet is 3.6° to the lower left of Zubenelgenubi. In the evening, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and the crescent moon span over 31°. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is over 8° up in the southwest. Venus passes 0.8° to the upper right of Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr, m = 2.8), the star at the top of the lid of the Teapot of Sagittarius. Through a telescope, Venus is 11.6” in diameter and 89% illuminated. Jupiter is nearly 7° to the lower right of Venus. Jupiter continues its eastward crawl toward Saturn, over 18° to Jupiter’s upper left. The crescent moon (4.3d, 20%), 22° up in the southwest, is over 13° to the upper left of Saturn.

 

2019, November 12: Venus in Southwest

November 12, 2019. Brilliant Venus shines from the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset
2019, November 12: Brilliant Venus shines from the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset.

Brilliant Venus shines in the southwestern sky about forty minutes after sunset.  Look for it on the next clear evening.  The planet is emerging from its solar conjunction earlier in the year.  Watch Venus approach and pass bright Jupiter in less than two weeks.  The Venus-Jupiter conjunction occurs on November 24, 2019.

Read more about Venus as an Evening Star at these links: