The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.

Close approach of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 2°56' of each other. The Moon will be 3 days old.

From Ashburn, the trio will become visible around 17:08 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 19° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 32 minutes after the Sun at 19:24.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

The Moon will be at mag -10.1 in Capricornus; Jupiter will be at mag -2.0 in Sagittarius; and Saturn will be at mag 0.5 in Capricornus.

They will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

At around the same time, the trio will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

A graph of the angular separation between the Moon and Jupiter around the time of closest approach is available here.

The positions of the trio at the moment of closest approach will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
The Moon 20h09m40s -23°34' Capricornus -10.1 31'46"0
Jupiter 20h05m50s -20°46' Sagittarius -2.0 32"7
Saturn 20h07m50s -20°34' Capricornus 0.5 15"4

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The trio will be at an angular separation of 34° from the Sun, which is in Ophiuchus at this time of year.

The sky on 17 December 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

3-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


3 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:20 11:57 16:33
Venus 05:28 10:25 15:23
Moon 10:17 15:08 20:03
Mars 13:07 19:39 02:11
Jupiter 09:39 14:31 19:23
Saturn 09:39 14:31 19:23
All times shown in EST.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

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23 May 2021  –  Saturn enters retrograde motion
02 Aug 2021  –  Saturn at opposition

Image credit

The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.






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