Jupiter and Saturn Close Together in Night Sky on December 21

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OnFocus – Once every two decades, Jupiter and Saturn get close enough together to be seen in one telescope view. In recent months, the two outer planets have been moving towards one another, and on December 21 will be at their closest.

Appearing at just around 1/5 of a full Moon apart (one of their closest meetings), Jupiter and Saturn will be near enough to one another that many telescopes may be able to see both planets at once in the same field of view.

Don’t worry about a collision, however! While the two gas giants may APPEAR close, in reality they are hundreds of millions of miles apart. This will still be quite a striking sight, but you will need to look fast as both planets will set shortly after sunset. Look above the western horizon after sunset on December 21 for these bright, close planets- a clear view will help!

Illustration of the crescent Moon passing near the planets in mid-December, from EarthSky.

For more information check out this guide from EarthSky:
https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/great-jupiter-saturn-conjunction-dec-21-2020

A few space probes have actually visited both of these worlds! Find out more about these remarkable space missions in this article:
https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/news-display.cfm?News_ID=931

Wondering what the positions of the planets look like in our solar system? The “Exploring Our Solar System” activity will help:
https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/download-view.cfm?Doc_ID=243

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News Desk
Author: News Desk

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