It’s a great season for planet-spotting, with all the planets in the Solar System making an appearance.

Jupiter and Saturn were recently at opposition—so at their brightest and best—and Mars will get there in late October.

However, what makes us planet-spotters really get excited is when the planets and the Moon get close.

These fleeting moments can catch you off-guard if you’re not expecting them; the sight of the Moon beside a bright planet can be an arresting sight indeed.

Astronomers call these events conjunctions. There’s one coming up this weekend, and a few more before August is out.

Here’s when and where to see Moon-planet conjunctions in August 2020.

Saturday, August 15: Crescent Moon and Venus

When: before sunrise

Where: eastern night sky

This morning before dawn a waning 15%-lit crescent Moon will shine beside bright Venus in the constellation of Gemini.

After you’ve admired the celestial match-up, take a look slightly to the right and you may recognize the famous winter constellation of Orion rising on its side, with bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel just about visible either side of the three famous stars of Orion’s Belt. 

Friday, August 28: Moon and Jupiter

When: after sunset

Where: southern night sky

Look west after dark to see an 83%-lit waxing Moon shining brightly close to Jupiter. Shining at magnitude -2.6, Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, and it’s just past opposition so just shy of being 100% illuminated.

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Saturday, August 29: Moon and Saturn

When: after sunset

Where: southeastern night sky

24 hours after being in conjunction with Jupiter, the Moon will have moved on slightly in its monthly journey around the Earth, tonight being 90% illuminated as it passes by Saturn.

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Although you will be able to see Saturn fairly easily because it’s just past opposition, it’s 10 times fainter than Jupiter, so you may have to wait until it’s properly dark—perhaps an hour after sunset. If you’ve never looked at Saturn before, try to get yourself behind a small telescope; only then will you be able to glimpse its spectacular ring pattern.

If you enjoyed these conjunctions, come back next month—the Moon most definitely will.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.