First of all, welcome to the first day of winter! This means that after today, the days will start to get longer until June 20, 2021.
But why is today also special?
This is the closest apparent encounter of Jupiter and Saturn in nearly 400 years. Commonly known as the “Great Conjunction,” the two planets will remain in close alignment for a little while and also be easily visible to the naked eye.
Jupiter and Saturn align up about once every 20 years – 19.85 years, to be exact. The last time this happened was May 28, 2000, however, this is the closest since 1623, and the closest observable since 1226. After this, it will be March 15th, 2080 before we see another conjunction that will match this one.
NASA has some tips on what to do if you want to see the phenomenon:
“First, find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.”
It’ll be a great night to view it here in the Black Hills; just look off to the southwest just after sunset.
Overall we’ll stay partly cloudy, so hopefully we can spot it here in the Black Hills.
Space.com has a list of links on their website to where you can watch live if you aren’t able to view it in person.
Enjoy your Monday!
– Erik Dean, Meteorologist