Monday night

December 21, 2020

For the past year, Jupiter and Saturn have been dancing ever closer in the night sky. On the evening of Dec. 21, the very nadir of winter, they will be so close — one-tenth of one angular degree — that if your eyes are as bad as mine, they will appear as one blurry, bright planet. With a little optical aid you should be able to discern them as separate orbs, almost kissing, although Jupiter will be 450 million miles in front of the ringed Saturn.

Go out and look southwest in the hour after sunset. According to astronomers, the two planets have not appeared this close to each other in the sky since 1623 — but the sun’s glare then would have rendered them invisible. To find a conjunction that humans could see, you must skip all the way back to 1226, or ahead to March 15, 2080. You might wonder who will be around to witness that event
“}} This Solstice, Solace for the Darkness
A rare conjunction of planets serves as a reminder that there is more to the universe than just ourselves.

How to watch tonight’s ‘great conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn

visible near the horizon