2020 Planetary Positions
Venus (magnitude –4.2, in Aries) is the bright point shining in the southwest during and after twilight. Off to its right or
upper right is the Great Square of Pegasus.
In a telescope Venus still appears fairly small (16 arcseconds) and gibbous (70% sunlit). But it will enlarge in size and wane
in phase as it remains in the evening sky for the next four months.
Jupiter (magnitude –1.9, in Capricorn) is low in the southeast just before and during dawn, well to the lower left of Mars
(by about 20°). Nothing else in the vicinity is nearly as bright.
Saturn (magnitude +0.6 in Capricorn) is emerging low in the dawn 10° lower left of Jupiter (that's about a fist at arm's length). Binoculars will
Uranus (magnitude 5.8, in southwestern Taurus) is high in the southwest right after dark.
Neptune (magnitude 7.9, in eastern Pisces) sinks out of sight right after nightfall, far below Venus.
The dwarf planet Pluto lies in northern Capricorn and is highest above the southern horizon just before dawn. Search for it under a dark,
moonless sky. Pluto glows atmagnitude+14, and as a result, it is a challenge to spot. An 8-inch telescope on a perfect night brings Pluto to
the edge of visibility. For a direct view, however, you will want touse at least a 10- inch scope.
Mercury is having an excellent apparition low in the evening twilight. Look for it about 40 to 60 minutes after
sundown, far to the lower right of brilliant Venus (by about 25°). Mercury fades a lot this week, from magnitude
–1 to 0, but that's still quite bright. Mercury is presently in Pisces, preparing to go retrograde on 2/16/20.
Mars (magnitude +1.3, at the Ophiuchus-Sagittarius border) glows in the southeast before and during early dawn. It's
moving farther to the left or lower left of Mars-colored Antares, which is about magnitude +1.1. They're 15° to 18° apart
this week. Don't bother with a telescope; Mars is still a tiny 5 arcseconds in diameter.