Jupiter and Saturn are about to do something they haven’t done in 800 years.
The two planets are set to get so close that to us they’ll look like they’re touching on December 21.
The last time they looked this close from Earth was nearly 800 years ago, on March 4, 1226.
This kind of astronomical event is called a conjunction but in this case our skies will be graced with a great conjunction as it involves two of the solar system’s biggest gas planets.
“But it is fair to say that this conjunction is truly exceptional in that the planets get very close to one another,” Patrick Hartigan, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University, explained on his website.
He added, “In fact, they will be so close it may be a challenge to separate them with the unaided eye for many people,” he said, as reported by Business Insider.
To see this awe-inspiring sight stargazers need to look out for a single point of bright light as they’ll look like a double planet, but will actually be separated by a distance equal to about one-fifth of the moon’s diameter.
On the night of the winter solstice they will appear an hour after sunset but experts admit this amazing sight will be hard to view in the U.S., Canada and Europe because of how low it will be on the horizon.
Those living closer to the equator will have a better view.
“Viewing conditions are best close to the equator, though no matter where you are there is maybe an hour or so to observe this conjunction before the planets sink into the haze,” Hartigan said.
“You will need to have a clear southwestern horizon and no low clouds in the distance,” he added.
But if it is too cloudy on the night this is an ongoing event between December 17 and 25, just on December 21 the planets will be the closest in the sky.
In the last 2,000 years, there were just two times that Jupiter and Saturn came closer in the sky than they’ll get this year.
And if you still miss it the next time the two planets will appear this close will be on March 15, 2080 when it will be much easier to see as it will be higher in the sky.
“The major challenge there is you’ll have to stay alive for another 60 years to see it!” he said.
This year we’re all a lot happier enjoying the nature around us and looking to the skies, it’s the perfect distraction from troubled times.
Please share this information with all your friends and family so more people can enjoy this rare sight.