Before 2020 comes to a close, Jupiter and Saturn will be so close that they will appear to form a “double planet.”
The great conjunction, as the planetary alignment hasn’t occurred in nearly 800 years.
When their orbits align every 20 years, Jupiter and Saturn get extremely close to one another.
This occurs because Jupiter orbits the sun every 12 years, while Saturn’s orbit takes 30 years. Every couple of decades, Jupiter laps Saturn, according to NASA.
2020’s conjunction is especially rare because the planets haven’t been observed this close together since medieval times, in 1226.
Aligning with the winter solstice on December 21, 2020, the two planets will be just 0.1 degrees apart, less than the diameter of a full moon, EarthSky reports.
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The word “conjunction” is used by astronomers to describe the meeting of objects in our night sky, and the great conjunction occurs between the two largest planets in our solar system: Jupiter and Saturn.
The planets will be so close, they will appear, from some perspectives, to overlap completely, creating a rare “double planet” effect.
While the planets may appear to the naked eye very close but in reality, they are still hundreds of millions of miles apart, NASA clarified.
The great conjunction will be shining bright shortly after sunset, low in the southwestern sky, as viewed from the Northern hemisphere, NASA says. The event is observable from anywhere on Earth, provided the sky is clear.