Saturn and Jupiter Conjunction

Saturn, top, and Jupiter, below, are seen after sunset from Shenandoah National Park, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Luray, Virginia. The two planets are drawing closer to each other in the sky as they head towards a “great conjunction” on December 21, where the two giant planets will appear a tenth of a degree apart.

The two largest planets in our solar system, both gas giants, have been creeping ever closer to one another in the sky for months, and they will be at their closest on December 21, appearing in the evening as a double planet. Though this “Great Conjunction” occurs every 20 years or so, this event is exceptionally rare. 

The last time Jupiter and Saturn passed so close together was in 1623, just 14 years after Galileo invented his telescope. That conjunction wasn’t visible that year, due to its close position to the sun, so the last time an alignment this close was visible was in 1226.

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