The Moon Visits The Brilliant Gas Giants

~3 min

On Friday, September 25, the Moon will join two bright gas giants of the Solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, shining in the constellation Sagittarius. Learn how and when to observe this prominent trio and the stars surrounding it in the sky above you.

Conjunction of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn

Having completed the first quarter of its orbit around the Earth on Thursday, September 24, 2020, the Moon is going to visit two bright gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn. The conjunction of the Moon and the largest planet of the Solar System, Jupiter, will happen on Friday, September 25, 2020, at 2:48 a.m. EDT (06:48 GMT). Saturn will join them on the same day at 4:38 p.m. EDT (20:38 GMT). The Moon will shine at a magnitude of -12.1, while brilliant Jupiter and yellowish Saturn will be at a magnitude of -2.4 and 0.2, respectively.

As the evening sky darkens, look for the dazzling trio of the Moon and gas giants among the stars of the constellation Sagittarius. The conjunctions of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn provide the observers with the opportunity to make beautiful wide-field photographs. Also, good binoculars or an amateur telescope will allow you to enjoy Jupiter’s Galilean moons and its Great Red Spot as well as Saturn's fascinating rings.

The stargazing guide Star Walk 2 will help you not to miss the conjunction of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn: just turn the app’s notifications on. Moreover, with Star Walk 2, you can easily spot the bright trio in the sky, determine the best viewing time, and get a lot of interesting information on these celestial objects. Activate the AR Mode in the Star Walk 2 app to enjoy the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and other space objects shining over your current location.

The constellation Sagittarius

This month you can observe the bright trio of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn shining in the constellation Sagittarius. The constellation represents a mythological creature called centaur — half-man and half-horse; the Babylonians associated Sagittarius with Nergal, the god of war and the underworld, the king of sunset. Below, we'll list the five brightest stars of this constellation.

  • Kaus Australis or Epsilon (ε) Sagittarii is the brightest star of the constellation. It is a binary star shining at a magnitude of 1.85. Kaus Australis is one of the three stars marking the Archer’s bow along with Kaus Media and Kaus Borealis. The star’s name comes from the Arabic word “qaws” meaning “bow” and Latin “austrālis” meaning “southern”.

  • Nunki, also known as Sigma (σ) Sagittarii, shines at a magnitude of 2.05. It is the second brightest star in the constellation of Sagittarius glowing at the vane of the Archer’s arrow. Nunki is, probably, the oldest star name. Its meaning is uncertain, but it might be associated with the sacred Babylonian city of Eridu.

  • Ascella or Zeta (ζ) Sagittarii is a triple star system, marking the Archer’s armpit. It has a magnitude of 2.59. The star’s name derives from a Latin word for “armpit.”

  • Kaus Media or Delta (δ) Sagittarii and Kaus Borealis, also known as Lambda (λ) Sagittarii, are orange giant stars, which have a magnitude of 2.7 and 2.82, respectively. They shine at the Archer’s bow close to Kaus Australis. Names Kaus Media and Kaus Borealis derive from the Arabic word for “bow” and Latin words for “middle” and “northern”, respectively.

Take a tour of the constellation Sagittarius and its stars with Star Walk 2: type the name of one of these objects in the search field, and the application will show you its position in the sky. To learn more interesting facts about it, just tap on its name in the lower part of your screen.

Keep looking up and enjoy the sky!