The Liverpool Astronomical Society

“SIC ITUR AD ASTRA” (Thus The Way To The Stars)

The Society’s aims are the same as when it was formed in 1881:

To promote the science of Astronomy primarily in Liverpool and the neighbourhood thereof

Registered as a Charitable Educational Trust – No 519955.


Observing the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in December 2020

During December 2020, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen moving closer together low in the UK skies. At sunset, which is around 4pm in December look SSW, in between South and South West about 12 degrees up from the horizon. As dusk arrives you will see a bright “star” that actually isn’t a star it’s the planet Jupiter. Look to the upper left and another object, not as bright as Jupiter and slightly yellow in colour you will find the planet Saturn. Saturn and Jupiter are moving closer together in the sky.
By the time of the Winter Solstice, 21st December 2020 they will be very close together in our dusk sky. This is called a conjunction. In fact they will be so close together they may look like a single bright star, being dubbed the “Christmas Star” by the media.

Weather permitting, this will be a fine sight to see so don’t miss it as it won’t happen like this again for another 60 years. Using a pair of binoculars you should be able to separate the 2 planets and you might even see the 4 Jupiter Galilean Moon’s orbiting Jupiter and even spot Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. With a moderate telescope you will be able to observe the rings of Saturn and some surface detail on the planet, Jupiter. I anticipate that in my 102mm, f7 ED refractor that I will see both Saturn and Jupiter in the eyepiece at the same time.

You will need to check the location of these 2 planets a few days before the event to ensure you can see them from your location. In any case a lot of amateur astronomers will be heading for a location with the lowest South to South Western view as possible. Only then and assuming the weather is kind to us, will you be able to see the conjunction until the planets set around 6pm. After the 21st December, the 2 planets will separate so try not to miss this conjunction.


An image from the SkySafari planetarium software showing the positions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the south-south-western sky as seen from the Merseyside region at 16:00 GMT on December 16th 2020
SkySafari looking SSW December 16th 2020 at 4pm GMT

An image from the SkySafari planetarium software showing the positions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the south-south-western sky as seen from the Merseyside region at 16:00 GMT on December 21st 2020
SkySafari looking SSW December 21st 2020 at 4pm GMT

Gerard Gilliga and Allan Chapman - 24th February 2017
At our February 2017 lecture we welcomed an old friend in Professor Allan Chapman, who gave us his talk on “The Ferret of Comets; Charles Messier and astronomy in 18th century France.”
As usual Allan delivered an entertaining, informative and inspiring talk. The audience of approximately 90 people showed their appreciation with an extended applause afterwards.
“As always, it was a great pleasure to come up to the LAS and to speak. I was delighted to get such a large and appreciative audience”; Allan Chapman