From my house, I’ve got a window between 5:30 and 6pm where the sky’s dark enough to see the Saturnian moons yet not be blocked by my roof line. Here’s last night’s composite image. Separate exposure times for Jupiter, Saturn and the moons. Takahashi 150 with a 1.6x extender (1760mm fl). Canon EOS 80D, ISO 6400, 1/500, 1/160, and 1 sec exposures, respectively. Processing in PixInsight and Photoshop. Enjoy! Mike

On Dec 20, 2020, at 11:32 AM, Jane Houston Jones via OTEvents <> wrote:

I'm resending information about tomorrow's Jupiter and Saturn planetary conjunction because a good percentage of our email list didn't receive last week's note in a timely manner.  Also, I'm sharing some photos Mojo and I took using our cell phones on the 16th, 17 and 19th. Check out the views tonight, and also after Monday, and let us know what you see!

I love this description of conjunctions from NASA Astronomer Henry Throop in this article

“You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” said Henry Throop, astronomer in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “From our vantage point, we’ll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21.

"The planets regularly appear to pass each other in the solar system, with the positions of Jupiter and Saturn being aligned in the sky about once every 20 years." He goes on to remind us of Galileo's views of Jupiter's 1623 conjunction.  The whole article is worth a read!!

For those who would like to see this phenomenon for themselves, here’s what to do (also copied from the NASA article): 

  • Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
  • An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
  • The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet. (Jane's note: steady your binoculars against a pole or wall for stability.)
Here are a few snaps from our driveway in Monrovia over the past few nights, taken shortly after sunset.  On the 16th, the moon is below the planets, on the 17th above, and on the 19th the moon is too high in the sky for a photo.  I took the first two cell phone photos, and Mojo took last night's photo.


Jane Houston Jones, retired JPLer
Twitter: @jhjones @otastro Instagram @janehoustonjones
Astronomy, travel, music, food, cats

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