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A very rare phenomenon will occur on December 21, where Saturn and Jupiter will be practically together in the sky. There has been no such close and visible conjunction between the two giant planets since the Middle Ages.
The event takes place every two decades and has not occurred at night for 800 years, which will make it visible to almost everyone. While these two planets meet in this position every 20 years, the 2020 meeting is very particular as nearly 400 years have passed since both were so close to each other, NASA notes.
This type of conjunctions is also known as a possible astronomical explanation of the phenomenon called the star of Bethlehem. On the same day the 21st, at 11:22 a.m. (peninsular time), winter will begin in the northern hemisphere.
Over the days, the apparent positions of the giant planets have come closer and closer to each other. The process culminates on the 21st, when Jupiter and Saturn will be seen on the same line of sight, so close in the sky that, with the naked eye, we can barely distinguish one from the other.
It is the Great Conjunction, as the closest approximation of these two giant planets, the largest solar system, is often called. Because their periods are very different (11.86 years for Jupiter and 29.46 years for Saturn), only one major conjunction occurs every 20 years or so. But not all conjunctions are the same. Depending on the relative position of the Earth with respect to the two planets, in each conjunction they are more or less aligned on the line of sight.
Recall that the two stars are at very different distances: Jupiter is now one 890 million kilometers from Earth, while Saturn is almost twice as distant, at 1.62 billion kilometers. The conjunction of December 21 is exceptionally close. The planets will be separated by only 6 arc minutes, this is one fifth of the diameter of the full moon. Being able to witness an almost perfect alignment, over such long distances in space, is something out of the ordinary and truly incredible.
To observe them, it is convenient to start seeing the conjunction, at the latest, one hour after sunset, at about 7:00 p.m., looking to the southwest. The scene will take place on the border between the constellations Capricorn and Sagittarius. You have to find a place with a clear horizon, since the planets will then be about 10 degrees above the horizon. After half an hour they will be lower still, but then the sky will be darker, thus favoring the observation with greater contrast.