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Once in a lifetime event: Jupiter and Saturn close enough for “double planet” view

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Posted: Friday, December 4, 2020. 1:37 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Later this month the planets Jupiter and Saturn will be so close to each other that they will appear as a “double planet” when viewed from earth, an event that has not occurred in almost 800 years, reports CBS News.

On December 21, the plantest will be just within 0.1 degrees apart, which is less than the diameter of a full moon. While alignment between these two planets occur every 20 years or so, this particular alignment is exceptionally rare because Jupiter orbits the sun every 12 years, while Saturn’s orbit takes 30 years, according to NASA.

Once the planets are aligned, they will be visible in the night sky from anywhere in the world, provided that the sky is clear, for three weeks.  Unlike stars, which twinkle, both planets will hold consistent brightness, easy to find on clear nights.

CBS notes that Jupiter currently appears brighter than any star in the sky, while Saturn is slightly dimmer, but is still among the brightest stars and is distinguished by a golden glow.

“Saturn will appear just to the east of Jupiter, and will even look as close to the planet as some of its own moons,” CBS said.

The last “double planet” effect was observed in March of 1226.

 

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