Scope Diagram Astrocamera.Net - Astrophotography by Dave Kodama

Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction 16-21 Dec. 2020

In December 2020, Jupiter and Saturn came together in the closest conjunction (apparent separation) in several centuries. Fortunately clear skies prevailed in Southern California and I was able to photograph the conjunction progression, mostly from my own backyard.

This composite image shows the apparent distance between Jupiter and Saturn closing between 16-21 Dec. The moon image is from 16 Dec. and shown at the same scale for reference. Click on image to enlarge. Also available: unlabeled enlarged view.

NOTE: On some dates only 3 Galilean moons are visible because one moon was either in front or behind Jupiter. On the 20th, an apparent fifth moon around Jupiter was actually a background star.

Closeup of the conjunction from Dec. 21.



Photo info:

The wide photo at the top of the page was taken on a hand-held(!) Google Pixel 3A XL shooting in "Night Mode."

The composite image was assembled from photos was taken with my 4" telescopic setup with the photo parameters described below. Due to the brightness range between Jupiter's surface and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the camera's exposure bracketing was used to take multiple exposures, which were combined in Photoshop.

The image of the moon was a 0.4 sec. exposure (16 Dec.). Light clouds interfered at the time.

  • Dates: 16-21 Dec. 2020
  • Location: Cerritos*, CA
  • Camera: Nikon D850 @ ISO 400 with 2x telecompressor (1280 mm FL)
  • Exposure: Composite of shots ranging from 1/125 to 1/2 sec.
  • Lens/Scope: Borg 100ED
  • Filter: --
  • Mount: Losmandy GM-8
  • Guiding: --
  • Image Processing: Lightroom / Photoshop

* Dec. 21 image shots from Vanishing Point Observatory


Closeup shot of the conjunction was a composited stack of multiple shots with the following photo parameters

  • Dates: 21 Dec. 2020
  • Location: Vanishing Point Observatory
  • Camera: Canon RP (Hutech modified)
  • Exposure: Composite/stack of shots ranging from 1/50 to 1/2 sec.
  • Lens/Scope: AP155
  • Filter: IDAS NGS1
  • Mount: Losmandy Titan
  • Guiding: --
  • Image Processing: Lightroom / Photoshop