JUPITER & SATURN will form the first visible “double planet” in 800 years…
Before 2020 comes to a close, Jupiter and Saturn will be so close that they will appear to form a “double planet.” The great conjunction, as the planetary alignment has come to be known, hasn’t occurred in nearly 800 years.
When their orbits align every 20 years, Jupiter and Saturn get extremely close to one another. This occurs because Jupiter orbits the sun every 12 years, while Saturn’s orbit takes 30 years — every couple of decades, Jupiter laps Saturn, according to NASA.
However, 2020’s conjunction is especially rare — the planets haven’t been observed this close together since medieval times, in 1226.
“Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another,” Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan said in a statement. “You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”
Aligning with the winter solstice on December 21, 2020, the two planets will be just 0.1 degrees apart — less than the diameter of a full moon, EarthSky says. The word “conjunction” is used by astronomers to describe the meeting of objects in our night sky, and the great conjunction occurs between the two largest planets in our solar system: Jupiter and Saturn.
The planets will be so close, they will appear, from some perspectives, to overlap completely, creating a rare “double planet” effect. However, while they may appear to the naked eye very, very close, in reality, they are still hundreds of millions of miles apart, NASA said.
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