Why it matters: The two largest planets in our solar system are preparing for a rare rendezvous, the likes of which haven’t been seen on Earth in centuries. The event, known as a great conjunction, will be visible worldwide, weather permitting, on December 21.
On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will come together in the night sky in an event known as a great conjunction. In astronomy, a great conjunction happens when the two gas giants appear extremely close together in the sky as observed from Earth.
According to the Associated Press, Jupiter passes by Saturn in their respective trips around the Sun every 20 years but the upcoming event is special in that it will be the closest that the two have appeared in the sky since 1623. Due to the 1623 great conjunction being so close to the Sun, however, it was likely nearly impossible to see.
The last very close pairing that was visible from Earth occurred way back in 1226.
Per Jeffrey L. Hunt, you’ll want to head out just after sunset and look to the southern sky. Binoculars or a small telescope will give a better view but aren’t necessary, Hunt said.
If you miss this opportunity, you’ll have to wait until March 15, 2080, for your next chance.
Image credit: Bill Ingalls