'Christmas Star' in the Sky Tonight

'Christmas Star' in the Sky Tonight

Gallagher says the most ideal viewing time will likely be between 5:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday or Tuesday, because the sun will be down for a while by then and Saturn and Jupiter will be setting by 7 p.m. In the year, Jupiter caught up to and passed Saturn, in an astronomical event known as a "Great Conjunction," according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Jupiter and Saturn will merge in the night sky on December 21, appearing closer to one another.

A "great conjunction" occurred in July 1623 but it was impossible for humans to see because it was so close to the sun, according to the Associated Press. However, the occurrence is exceptionally rare as Saturn will be much closer to the biggest planet in the solar system.

A telescope will not only capture Jupiter and Saturn in the same field of view, but even some of their brightest moons. For Jupiter, that orbit takes nearly 12 years and for Saturn, that same orbit around the sun takes nearly 30 years.

In reality, the two planets were over 400 million miles apart, but due to their alignment in relation to Earth, they appeared to be extremely close to each other.

Jupiter and Saturn will remain in close proximity for the remainder of the month, but after that, they'll drift back apart to their usual distance.

Jupiter and Saturn will merge in the night sky on Monday, appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo's time in the 17th century.

On Dec. 21, Saturn and Jupiter will appear to line up. "The two planets shall get so close that it will be a test of the eyesight".

"Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible". They're going to be right beside each other in the sky this evening, just at sunset. In fact, on December 21, they appear closer together than they have in hundreds of years.

"The planets will be a bright whitish-yellow to the naked eye, but you'll really be able to discern a lot of color if you use binoculars", said Lisa Will, an astronomy professor at San Diego City College.

Miss it, and you'll need to wait until 2080 to see the next great conjunction.

A very rare, once-in-a-lifetime celestial event will shine brightly in the sky on Monday evening - weather permitting, of course.

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