More precise figures are 11.86 years for Jupiter's orbital period, 29.46 years for Saturn's orbital period, and 19.86 years for the average frequency of a great conjunction. In the technical language of astronomers, there are a number of ways to define a conjunction. As November began, Jupiter and Saturn were five degrees apart, which is the width of your three middle fingers held at arm's length. The above figures are round numbers. Over a period of one thousand years, from 1600 to 2599, there are only six great conjunctions where the minimum separation between Jupiter and Saturn is less than 0.2 degrees: 1623, 1683, 2020, 2080, 2417, and 2477. This month’s Great Conjunction will be the closest encounter of the two largest planets in the solar system since 1623, despite Jupiter and Saturn passing close to each other every 20 years or so. Updated 12:03 PM ET, Thu December 3, 2020. Learn how to use altitude (elevation) and azimuth angles to locate any object in the sky, such as stars, planets, satellites, the Sun, or the Moon. That’s just ⅕ … Jupiter, left, and Saturn, right, are seen after sunset above Jordan Lake during the “great conjunction” where the two planets appear a tenth of a degree apart from one another, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. However, a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is rare and only happens once every 20 years. And they're currently visible in our night sky, inching ever closer to one another. (CNN)The two largest planets in our solar system are coming closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages, and it's happening just in time for Christmas. If you're in New York or London, or along those latitudes, try to spot the conjunction right after sunset. Astronomers call this plane the ecliptic. During January 2021, however, the two planets will become lost in the glare of the Sun. In this period of time, Saturn completes two-thirds of its 30-year orbit (since 20 is two-thirds of 30). Privacy & Terms, The 400-Year Rhythm of Great Conjunctions, Department of Astronomy and Space Science. Scroll down to see a live stream recording of the 2020 great conjunction! Because of this alignment, the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets visible to the naked eye—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn—follow the same general path as they travel across the Earth's sky. On both these occasions, the minimum separation of Jupiter and Saturn will be 1.1 degrees—which means they will be eleven times farther apart than on December 21, 2020. The last Mercury transit was on November 11, 2019. Occasionally, Jupiter appears to pass Saturn three times, in a zigzag fashion. The 2020 great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226! Night Sky Map: find Saturn and Jupiter in the sky. Jupiter and Saturn have come closer than at any time in 400 years in the event dubbed the great conjunction, prompting people around the world to turn out and try for a … The reason an eclipse doesn't happen every month is that the Moon's orbit is slightly tilted in relation to the ecliptic, and it normally passes above or below the Sun. These meetings are conjunctions. ", While these two planets may appear close, they are still hundreds of millions of miles apart, according to, Hope for clear skies because the conjunction will be visible around the world, with the best perspective for those. A photo taken from Oakland Park shows what the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn looked like from a backyard telescope in South Florida. The last time that the two planets were easily observable when separated by less than 0.1 degrees was almost 800 years ago, during the great conjunction of 1226. Some media outlets have also referred to the phenomenon as “kissing stars” or “double planets.”. The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of December 2020 is the biggest shift in 20 years - 200 years - 400 years - 600 years - 2,000 years - and 26,000 years. December 21st, 2020 – Jupiter Conjunct Saturn In Aquarius. excluding Uranus and Neptune). When the Moon passes the Sun, the result can be an eclipse (which is where the term ecliptic comes from). The two planets are drawing closer to … As it circles the Earth once a month, the Moon passes each of the planets in the sky. In the Eastern Hemisphere, it was closest on December 17. On December 21st, 2020 Jupiter is conjunct Saturn at 0° Aquarius. If you're a stargazer, you've likely noticed Jupiter and Saturn have been getting closer together since the summer. This is our Night Sky Map for New York City on December 16, about 45 minutes after sunset. Celebrate the end of the year with the closest conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn for nearly 400 years and the annual Geminids meteor shower. There has been an atmosphere of anticipation building during the year of being on the precipice of a new era, while simultaneously old issues have resurfaced in need of resolution. Fixed star Altair at 02°03′ Aquarius is in the neck of Aquila the Eagle. Scroll down to see telescope footage! For this reason, it is known as the great conjunction. The most recent triple conjunction was in 1980-81, when Jupiter passed Saturn on December 31, 1980—and then again on March 4 and July 24, 1981. At the start of December, the planets were two degrees apart, and still moving closer together. This simulation is for New York, USA, but the great conjunction can be seen all over the world. From our point of view, the two giant worlds will appear only 0.1 degrees apart. 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