You Can Witness This Month’s “Double Planet” That Hasn’t Been So Close In 800 Years

published Dec 11, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Shutterstock/AleksandrMorrisovich

It’s not every day that two of the biggest planets in our solar system meet in the night sky. But later this month, earthlings are in for a treat when Jupiter and Saturn come together to create a visible “double planet.”

The two planets will meet on the evening Dec. 21—the winter solstice—and get so close that they’ll form the appearance of a double planet. Jupiter and Saturn will be only 0.1 degree apart, which is just a quarter of a full moon diameter, and will be the closest they’ve been to each other since 1226, according to EarthSky.

The encounter is called a “great conjunction,” a term that describes when two of the biggest worlds in our solar system meet. The last time Jupiter and Saturn met in close proximity was 20 years ago, but because the meeting occurred so close to the sun, it was extremely difficult to see. However, 2020’s great conjunction isn’t the case, and observers are expected to be able to see the “double planet” through a small telescope with little to no problem.

While Dec. 21 is the night to see the two planets meet at the closest point, you don’t have to wait that long to see the stars in the sky. As of Nov. 21, Jupiter and Saturn have been slowly moving toward each other in the sky, and every night you can look up to try and spot the two planets. Jupiter is brighter than any star, and Saturn is right behind Jupiter in brightness, so just look up for vibrant twinkles.

This conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn happen once every 20 years, so don’t wait another two decades to catch this astronomical sighting.