Jupiter and Saturn will be closest – only 0.1 degrees apart – on the day of the solstice, December 21, 2020
Astronomers use the word conjunction to describe meetings of planets and other objects on our sky’s dome. They use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of the two biggest worlds in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn. The December 21, 2020, great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is already underway and highly conspicuous in the west after sunset each evening.
On December 21, the pair will be only 0.1 degree apart. Some say the pair will look like an elongated star on that date. Will they? Or will they look like a double planet? What if you’re clouded out? How can you watch online?
No matter how you see them, or which evening between now and December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will surely be an appealing and mind-expanding sight. Just don’t miss them!
Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions happen every 20 years; the last one was in the year 2000. But these conjunctions aren’t all created equal. The 2020 great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226! 2020’s extra-close Jupiter-Saturn conjunction won’t be matched again until the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of March 15, 2080.
At the 2000 great conjunction, 20 years ago, Jupiter and Saturn were near the sun in our sky and difficult to observe. We’re due for a more observable great conjunction. Jupiter and Saturn are up every evening now – not far from the sunset glare – easily visible and exceedingly noticeable as two bright objects near each other. Plus, in the days prior to the conjunction, the young moon will return to the evening sky, to point the way to the planets.