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

Close approach of Jupiter and Saturn

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Jupiter and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 0°06' of each other.

From Ashburn, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 18° above the horizon. They will become visible around 17:08 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 18° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 21 minutes after the Sun at 19:09.

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Jupiter will be at mag -2.0, and Saturn at mag 0.5, both in the constellation Capricornus.

The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

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

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

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

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Jupiter 20h10m00s -20°34' Capricornus -2.0 32"5
Saturn 20h09m50s -20°28' Capricornus 0.5 15"3

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 30° from the Sun, which is in Sagittarius at this time of year.

The sky on 21 December 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

7-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


7 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:36 12:11 16:45
Venus 05:36 10:29 15:22
Moon 12:28 18:14 00:00
Mars 12:55 19:30 02:06
Jupiter 09:24 14:16 19:09
Saturn 09:23 14:16 19:09
All times shown in EST.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 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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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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