- Jupiter and Saturn will line up in the night sky on December 21st.
- The two planets only align every two decades or so.
- The planets will appear so close that according to astronomers they will look like a “double planet”.
What will you do on the evening of December 21st? Are you dreaming of all the great holiday gifts you will receive? Frantic last-second shopping for those gifts for someone else? Or maybe just watching some Netflix because I mean, what else is there to do when there’s a pandemic?
Well, if you end up doing none of these things, you might want to take some time to look up at the sky and see a sight that’s only possible every couple of decades or so. That night, two of the largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will be close and close. In fact, they will be so incredibly close that they will appear as a “double planet,” according to Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan.
Best deal today
Save 15% on FDA cleared AccuMed KN95 masks – NIOSH says they’re as good as 3M N95 masks List price:$ 26.25 Price:$ 22.32 Savings:$ 3.93 (15%) Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
Due to the nature of the way planets orbit the Sun, the proximity of two planets to each other varies greatly over many years. In the case of Earth and Mars, our two worlds are close enough to launch missions from our planet to the Red Planet approximately every two years. For Jupiter and Saturn, the two planets “align” from our point of view only about every 20 years.
That said, the night of December 21 will be particularly special due to the proximity of the two planets. In fact, it has been hundreds of years since the two planets will line up in the skies as they will in a few weeks.
“Alignments between these two planets are quite rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare due to how close the planets will appear to each other,” Hartigan said in one. declaration. “You should go back until dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”
It’s a long, long time and probably a good reason to take a moment to look up at the sky. If you also have a hobby-level telescope, you should have a good chance of seeing it, assuming the weather is cooperating. The closer you are to the equator, the better your view will be.
“On the evening of the closest approach, December 21, they will look like a double planet, separated by only 1/5 the diameter of the full moon,” Hartigan explains. “For most telescope viewers, each planet and many of their larger moons will be visible in the same field of view that evening.”
Mark your calendars, because 2020 may actually give us something we want for once!