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Finding the planets December 2020


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Jupiter is moving closer to Saturn and they will be less than a full-moon's width apart between December 17th and 26th. Around the 21st-22nd the gap between then will be about a quarter of a full moon's width, so they will be in a telescope's field of view. These close encounters (called conjunctions) happen every twenty years when Jupiter, orbiting the Sun in 12 years, catches up with Saturn, which takes 30 years to do an orbit. The close pairing is just line-of-sight, because Jupiter is 879 million km away and Saturn 1,610 million km away. The crescent Moon will be above the pair on the 17th.

Mars is due north at dusk

Please feel free to reply if you have a something to say about the planets during December, or need help finding them. Or start a new topic if you have a question on another aspect of the December night sky.

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