Skywatchers, you’re in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat. The “Christmas Star”— when Jupiter and Saturn do a planetary dance— will result in the "Great Conjunction" on Monday, Dec. 21 after sunset.
Jupiter and Saturn will be just one-tenth of a degree apart from our perspective or about one-fifth the width of a full moon. They should be easily visible around the world a little after sunset, weather permitting.
In Northeast Ohio, there's a possibility the "Great Conjunction" will be visible. On Monday night, conditions are not ideal as it will be cloudy with rain and snow chances this evening.
It’s a rare moment when Jupiter and Saturn will be right next to each other in the sky—the closest they have appeared in nearly 400 years, according to NASA.
Astronomers say so-called conjunctions between the two largest planets in our solar system aren’t particularly rare. Jupiter passes its neighbor Saturn in their respective laps around the sun every 20 years.
How to see this phenomenon, according to NASA:
- Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
- An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
- The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.
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