From the pandemic to wildfires, most of what nature has given us in 2020 has knocked us for a loop. But with just 10 days left in the year, nature is giving us one last parting gift—and this one is pretty cool.
Tonight, what is dubbed the “Christmas Star” will appear in the sky at its peak visibility. The Christmas Star isn’t actually a star at all, however. It’s two of our solar system’s largest planets–Jupiter and Saturn–which will appear closer in the sky than they have in over a century.
Officially, what is happening with the two planets is called a “great conjunction” (“great” because they are the two largest gas giants in our solar system). And because of our perspective from the earth, this great conjunction will make it appear as if the two planets are actually touching.
If you want to check out the heavenly show, here’s the best time and way to see it (via KTLA5):
- Best time: 45 minutes to one hour after sunset begins tonight, Monday, December 21.
- Best place: Any place that has an unobstructed view of the sky—so avoid areas with tall buildings. Also, areas with low light pollution are best, such as fields away from buildings and major roadways.
- Where to look: Up, obviously. And to the southwestern sky.
Keep in mind tonight’s great conjunction will only have optimal visibility for about an hour, so don’t forget to get outside just after your local sunset. You’ll be able to view it with the naked eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you’ll be in for an extra special treat: You should be able to see four of Jupiter’s moons orbiting the planet.
Miss it, and you’ll need to wait until 2080 to see the next great conjunction.