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Winter Solstice brings Jupiter and Saturn together in rare meeting

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Posted: Monday, December 7, 2020. 7:02 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Relevant Magazine says those of an astronomical bent will enjoy a wonderful sight in two weeks’ time.

On the night of December 21, known as the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, Jupiter and Saturn will cross paths in the night sky, making for a fairly spectacular sight just ahead of Christmas.

The planets, the two largest in our solar system, will be the closest they have been from Earth’s view in 800 years; they typically cross paths every two decades.

Of course, they will still be separated by hundreds of millions of miles, but to us, they’ll look like they’re almost touching. It’ll create a “Christmas Star” phenomenon just in time for the holidays. After this, the days will slowly start to get longer again, so there’s all sorts of symbolism here.

The best time to see the conjunction will be early in the evening, between dusk and around 15 or 20 minutes after nightfall. It should be visible to most, weather permitting, although people further north may have to look a little harder and the light pollution of a large city will dim the overall effect. If you miss it on December 21, don’t stop looking up — the two planets will still appear pretty close over the next few days.

While it’s been 800 years since we last got to see something like this, astronomers say it’ll actually happen again in a relatively brief 60 years.

 

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