Tag Archives: Venus

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

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 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.

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 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.

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 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

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 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.

Recent Articles

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 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.

Recent Articles

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 7: Morning Star Venus, Mars, Moon

Moon in Taurus, October 7, 2020
2020: October 7: The moon (overexposed in the photo and partially blocked by tree leaves) appears 6.8° to the upper left of the star Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster.

Brilliant Venus, bright Mars, and the gibbous moon shine brightly in the morning sky.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

The gibbous moon, Mars, and Morning Star Venus shine brightly from the morning sky.

The moon, 75% illuminated, shines from high in the southern sky before morning twilight begins.  This morning the lunar orb is 6.8° to the upper left of the star Aldebaran.  The star and the Hyades star cluster form the face of Taurus the Bull.  Aldebaran marks a Bull’s eye.

On the photo above, the tree’s leaves block most of the overexposed image of the moon.  Aldebaran and the Hyades appear to the lower right of the moon.

Mars in Pisces, October 7, 2020
2020: October 7: Mars is 0.4° to the lower left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc on the photo) and 2.9° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc). With a binocular watch the planet approach and pass 80 Piscium (80 Psc) as it continues to retrograde.

Farther west, Mars is retrograding among the stars of Pisces.  Retrograde motion is an illusion that seems to show that the planet is moving backwards compared to the distant stars. 

The planets normally move eastward compared to the starry background.  When Earth passes the outer planets, they show this retrograde motion.  This motion was the major cosmological problem before the invention of the telescopes to make detail observations and photographs of the sky.

Just one day past its closest approach to Earth until 2035, the Red Planet continues to appear as an overly bright star in the sky. 

Next week (October 13), Mars is at opposition with the sun.  For us, Mars and the sun are in opposite directions.  The planet rises in the east at sunset, appears in the south around midnight, and sets in the west at sunrise.

When near opposition, the outer planets display at their brightest in the skies of Earth.

On the photo above, Mars is 0.4° to the lower left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc on the photo) and 2.9° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc).  With a binocular make observations each morning to watch the planet approach and pass 80 Piscium (80 Psc) as it continues to retrograde.

Venus in Leo, October 7, 2020
2020: October 7: Venus is 5.2° to the lower left of Regulus and 1.3° above Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the photo).

Farther east, Morning Star Venus continues to step eastward in Leo.  Now well-past Regulus, Venus approaches Rho Leonis (ρ Leo n the photo).  This morning, Venus is 5.2° to the lower left of Regulus and 1.3° above ρ Leo. 

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

Each morning look at Venus and the nearby starfield with a binocular as the planet steps away from Regulus and toward 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.

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.

2020, October 6: Venus Steps Through Leo

Venus in Leo, October 6, 2020
2020, October 6: Venus shines brightly from the eastern sky before sunrise. This morning it is 4.1° to the lower left of Regulus and 2.5° to the upper right of Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the chart.)

Morning Star Venus steps through Leo during October in the eastern sky near the star Regulus.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Brilliant Venus is “that bright star” in the eastern sky before sunrise during October.

The planet shines from in front of the stars of Leo. This morning it was 4.1° to the lower left of Regulus and 2.5° to the upper right of Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the chart.)

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

Each morning look at Venus and the nearby starfield with a binocular as the planet steps away from Regulus and toward 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.

Recent Articles