OT: Jupiter and Saturn Tonight


Hi Folks,

Please excuse this off-topic post, but I know many birders share an interest in the night sky and also have binoculars and spotting scope to enjoy celestial views.

As you've probably heard, Jupiter and Saturn will appear exceptionally close together in the evening sky on December 21. Clear skies, of course, are not guaranteed, but tonight promises to be "clear and cold" and the pair are already close enough to be a fine sight by eye and fit in the same telescopic field. Tonight at 5:15 PM from the Capital District and surrounding region they will be 14 degrees above the horizon and appear 20 arcmin apart (the Moon appears 31 arcmin across). Jupiter is brighter and fainter Saturn will be to the upper left at about the 11 o'clock position. Also shown is how they and their moons will appear in a telescope. (Any astronomical or spotting scope should do just fine. Start with the lowest power.) With twilight encroaching and their low altitude the fainter moons will be a challenge. You'll probably only see the four Galilean moons of Jupiter and perhaps Titan. (If you see Titan, try for Rhea.) If you're outside this area, look 45 minutes after local sunset. The next such close conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is March 15, 2080. Clear skies, Alan

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