Solar System Phenomena — Jupiter in 2020

The path of Jupiter against the background stars in 2020

The chart shows the path of Jupiter across the background stars over the course of the year. Stars to magnitude +7.5 are shown. The white circles represent the planet on the first day of the month and are scaled according to apparent magnitude. The faint paths before the first circle and after the last circle represent the planet's positions in December of last year and January of next. In general, the planet moves from right to left except when it's in retrograde and proceding in the opposite direction.

The lower chart shows how the appearance of Jupiter changes over the year. Below each image is listed the date, the apparent magnitude, the apparent diameter of the disk (in arc-seconds) and the geocentric distance (in au). Note that Jupiter appears distinctly larger and brighter near the time of opposition.

Jupiter was at conjunction at the end of last year and doesn't appear in the morning sky until well into January. It spends most of the year in Sagittarius, passing south of the 'Teaspoon' asterism in February, before crossing into Capricornus just before the end of 2020. It is occulted by the Moon in January and February and reaches opposition in July when it shines a brilliant magnitude −2.8. It spends the year slowly catching up with Saturn and is in conjunction with the ringed planet on 21 December. Mars makes a close approach to the largest planet in the solar system in March. Jupiter is visible in the evening sky from mid-year but gets increasingly difficult to observe toward the end of 2020 as it closes in on the Sun.

01 Januarymaximum declination south
02 Januaryplanetary conjunction: 1.5° north of Mercury
23 Januarylunar occultation: 0.4° north of the Moon
19 Februarylunar occultation: 0.9° north of the Moon
27 Februarydescending node
18 March1.5° north of the Moon
20 Marchplanetary conjunction: 0.7° north of Mars
14 April2.0° north of the Moon
15 Aprilwest quadrature
12 May2.3° north of the Moon
14 Maystationary point: direct → retrograde
08 June2.2° north of the Moon
05 July1.9° north of the Moon
14 Julyopposition: magnitude −2.8, apparent diameter 47.6 arc-seconds
01 August1.5° north of the Moon
29 August1.4° north of the Moon
13 Septemberstationary point: retrograde → direct
25 September1.6° north of the Moon
11 Octobereast quadrature
22 October2.0° north of the Moon
19 November2.5° north of the Moon
17 December2.9° north of the Moon
18 DecemberSagittariusCapricornus
21 December0.1° south of Saturn
31 Decembermaximum declination north


The dates, times and circumstances of all planetary and lunar phenomena were calculated from the JPL DE406 solar system ephemeris using the same rigorous methods that are employed in the compilation of publications such as The Astronomical Almanac.