Once again, the observers throughout the world have an opportunity to see the spectacular trio of the waxing crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn shining in the sky. Read our article to find out how, when, and where to observe this beautiful astronomical event.
The bright astronomical trio
Having met the inferior planets, Venus and Mercury, last week, the Moon is going to join the brilliant gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn. The conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter will occur on November 19, 2020, at 08:57 GMT (note that it is the time when these celestial objects are closest, but it is not the only time to see them together). The 4-days-old Moon will be at a magnitude of -11.1, and the kingly planet Jupiter will shine at a magnitude of -2.1. The largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter, and our natural satellite will shine among the stars of the constellation Sagittarius.
Later this day, the ringed planet Saturn will join the duet; the conjunction of the Moon and Saturn will happen on November 19, 2020, at 14:51 GMT. The Moon and Saturn will meet in the constellation Sagittarius, shining at a magnitude of -11.2 and 0.4, respectively.
Use the thin crescent Moon to find the gas giants in the sky on November 18, 19, 20, and 21 after nightfall. Jupiter is much brighter than Saturn — it outshines the ringed planet by 12 times — so you won’t mix them up. Find brilliant Jupiter first, and then you’ll notice a golden star shining nearby — it’s Saturn. Saturn is the most distant planet seen with the unaided eye; use a telescope to observe its beautiful rings.
The stargazing guide Star Walk 2 will help you get an accurate position of the Moon, the gas giants, and the constellation Sagittarius and determine the best viewing time for your location. Open the app, enter the name of a celestial body in the search field, and enjoy its view! Open the Sky Live section to get information about the lunar phases and determine the exact time of the rise and set of the Moon and the planets.
Messier 75 shines close to Jupiter and Saturn
In the 18th century, the French astronomer Charles Messier observed the night sky and spotted several “nebulous objects”. At first, Messier mistook these objects for comets, but then he realized his error. Charles Messier and his assistant Pierre Méchain began to catalog these objects so that other observers would not make the same mistake. Today, the Messier Catalog includes 110 objects — diffuse nebulae, planetary nebulae, open clusters, globular clusters, and galaxies.
This week, Jupiter and Saturn are going to pass a globular star cluster Messier 75 (also known as M75 or NGC 6864) located in the southern part of the constellation Sagittarius. It was discovered by the French astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1780. The star cluster lies at a distance of about 67,500 light-years away from the Earth and has a magnitude of 8.6. M75 is believed to be about 13 billion years old and contains approximately 400,000 stars.
According to the Canadian astronomer Chris Vaughan, the observers should try to see the globular cluster between about 6 and 7 p.m. local time, when it’s higher, and the sky has darkened fully. Use binoculars or telescopes to look for a faint fuzzy patch located to the upper left of Saturn.
Wishing you clear skies and happy stargazing!