December is the perfect month for space lovers. We’ve already seen a meteor shower, the year’s only full solar eclipse, and now we have a rare conjunction of two planets.
Mark your calendars for December 21st, 2020 and pull out your telescope. You’ll get a rare view of Saturn and Jupiter passing closely by each other.
Here’s how it’s going to happen. We know it takes one year for the earth to go around the sun. It takes just under twelve years for Jupiter to rotate around the sun. And it takes just under thirty years for Saturn’s same journey. They all meet roughly every twenty years. It last happened in the year 2000 and it won’t happen again until 2040. But they don’t always pass this close together. That’s because of the tilt in their orbits.
Even though this happens about every twenty years, Saturn and Jupiter will make their closest pass by each other since July of 1623. That’s the last time that had a nearly identical pass to what we have this year. But it was nearly 800 years ago, in 1226, when a pass this close happened at night for all to see… that’s how rare this is for us this year! On a clear night, you’ll be able to see it with the naked eye but a telescope is recommended… and with a telescope, you can even see their moons.
Find a spot with an unobstructed view. You’ll wanna look to the southwest sky…. that’s where you’ll find the two planets not far above the horizon. They’ve been getting closer and closer within the last month. With this Great Conjunction, the planets will appear so close… they’ll only be about a point one degree apart…but these planets are actually seperated by 450-million miles of space!