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How to view Jupiter, Saturn as they come closest they've been to each other in hundreds of years

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Posted at 10:53 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 13:12:36-05

Look up at the sky this week. We will get a treat as Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest they have been in the sky in four centuries.

Appearing as a “Christmas star,” the "great conjunction" happens next Monday, December 21, which also happens to be the Winter Solstice, marking the start of the winter season.

A conjunction happens when planets appear close in the night sky and line up with Earth’s orbits. The last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close was 1623, about 14 years after Galileo was using rudimentary telescopes to study outer space. However, that year, the conjunction was too close to the sun to view it.

The last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close and visible to the Earth was during the Middle Ages in 1226.

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The last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close and visible to the earth was in the Middle Ages in 1226.

To view the conjunction, you will want to look to the southwest just above the horizon.

If you want to do a fun activity with your kids, grab a dime and hold it at arm’s length towards the sky in between your fingers. Jupiter and Saturn’s angular distance is nearly equal to the thickness of a dime.

Here's a good way to remember how far above the horizon to look up: the conjunction will be about 15 degrees above the horizon, about the length of a thumbs up.

This story was originally published by Heather Mathis at WTVF.