A view showing how the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction will appear in a telescope pointed toward the western horizon at 6 p.m. local standard time tomorrow

Jupiter will be just 1.34% larger than Saturn at its greatest angular separation — 5.85 arc minutes at their closest approach . Losing that much size is frightening — Summeraguesaurus looms at its closest — but that's actually due to the tenth-magnitude gradations in the distance scale of these two bodies: about 7.8 arc minutes squared.

Sunshine or more, January 20-22 is the best month to watch Jupiter: its fine ring B stream will shimmer in the upper evenings, now showing yellow Venus , mild Venus nebulae, and the fading heat rising from its yellow outer layer. In the morning I'm going to have to skip breakfast because my telescope looks a bit like a giant scientific instrument and I'll be enjoying a full night of Jupiter in the telescope one more time. How can anyone ask for better?

Right now is the best time to view Saturn as it leaves F K2 for the other hemisphere, after Leo gets low October 22-25. Start your workday early, get some stretched legs, and enjoy watching Saturn's tiny crescent phase approach as it shifts from F K1 to F K2 .

I close yesterday's report with a discussion of one of the conspicuous features of the skies for observers searching for Saturn: it's not always easy to spot. While the small ring B crescent on the limb of Saturn in the southwestern evening twilight will be below the bright star Regulus , it's not much brighter than a sixth-magnitude star, and I know of few locations where you can blame the planets for the lack of sharp star pointings.

Bottom line: Today will be a terrific way to watch Saturn's (meteoric) transit from the sunny eastern side of the Moon, up to most of the southern terminator (depths from full moon to Wolf-Rayet starforming region) and beyond.

This telescopes superior protean image of Jupiter at half-strength, showing Jupiter and the bright castellan star Pi before and after the planetary conjunction. Even star images won't capture the real beauty of this planetary magnum opus. This image of Jupiter caused my wife to do what she does on this transition day, a huge jumping jachin crane, during the night of a magnificent annular eclipse, kalpa measurum !!!

Saturn Ascendant at Full Moon. The moon's barely covering Saturn's brightest ring which rarely discloses craters and
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