2020 has been a pretty strange year but the stars and planets carry on regardless including December’s Jupiter and Saturn conjunction – an event I had in my diary for months.

Now this is where the two planets will appear practically alongside each other in the evening sky.

I was really excited to have both planets – and their moons – in the eyepiece at the same time.

Running this through my sky safari app based on my location in England showed that the two planets were really close together. They were close on the 19th, even closer on the 20th and at their closest on the 21st before drawing apart again.

The view at closest approach on 21 December

But they were low in the west in the evening sky after sunset and, being so low, I could not see them from my garden as they are behind the treeline.

The 19th was a practice run dodging rain showers with the DSLR and 400mm telephoto lens but the 20th was beautifully clear.

Clouds just about to hide the two planets

So, after a quick squiz at the moon – approaching first quarter in the southern sky I hunted for the two planets with my binoculars as dusk approached. As it got dark the two planets were easily visible to the naked eye and a glorious sight through the telescope.

400Beautiful evening sky with a waxing moon

I set up my camera to take some widefield shots of the beautiful scenery lit by moonlight. Clicking the camera on revealed an error – I had left the card in my laptop at home! Oh well, it was time for a pencil sketch of the view and generic iPhone snaps.

The view through the eyepiece was spectacular. We had Jupiter and Saturn together, the moons of Jupiter and a confusing background star that masqueraded as a 5th moon of Jupiter.

Looking again at Sky Safari, the moonlight that lit up the field took 2s to reach the earth. The light from Jupiter takes 40 minutes to reach us. from Saturn 90 minutes and from this faint star over 200 years! So time travel at the eyepiece.

Needless to say the closest approach on the 21st saw complete cloud cover but I was so grateful for the 2 clear evenings leading up to the conjunction.