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Finding the planets for November 2020


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Bright planets light up the evening sky. Jupiter and Mars are the brightest. Jupiter appears midway down the western sky soon after sunset. Orange-red Mars is in the north and pretty much overhead by 11pm. As the sky darkens Saturn appears just above Jupiter. 

Jupiter and Saturn appear close enough together to be in the same binocular view, although they will set around midnight. This happens every 20 years when Jupiter, circling the Sun in 12 years, catches up on Saturn which takes 30 years to do an orbit. The pair will be even closer next month but low in the twilight. Their apparent pairing is just a line-of-sight effect, of course. Jupiter is 830 million km from us, mid-month, while Saturn is nearly twice that distance, 1560 million km away. The moon, just 374,000 km away, will appear near Jupiter on the 19th.

We passed Mars in mid-October and are now leaving it behind us. As we do it will slowly fade. It will be 80 million km away mid-month. The moon will be near Mars on the 25th and 26th.

Venus rises a little south of east an hour before the Sun all month. Mercury might be seen in the dawn mid-month, below and right of Venus, and much fainter, rising 35 minutes before sunrise.

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

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