By Mario Lotmore | Lynnwood Times Staff
On Monday evening, December 21, the gas giants of our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will appear the closest since July 16, 1623, according to NASA. It will be interesting how the pair will appear in the night sky with only a gap of 0.6 degrees between each other – an elongated star, a double planet, or neither.
The “Christmas Star,” some are calling it, will be seen in the southwestern sky with the naked eye. However, binoculars or telescopes will enhance the viewing, making Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons more visible.
Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions happen every 20 years but what makes this one special or great is the frequency of this occurrence being the closest since 1623 and the closet observable since March 5, 1226. The “Great Conjunction” happens on the same day as the Winter Solstice, considered to be the start of the astrological New Year, since it’s the moment when each day starts to have more light – from dark to light.
If you miss this rare rendezvous, it won’t be this close or this visible again until March 15, 2080.