Everyone’s talking about the Great Conjunction—the super rare alignment of Jupiter and Saturn happening right now (today, December 21, 2020)! Though these two planets cross paths once every 20 years—the last time was in May 2000—their meeting often occurs when both are caught under the sun’s beams and thus impossible to view. But this year’s meet-cute—the closest in about 800 years—is shining brightly in the night sky! It’s quite poetic that this conjunction is happening on the winter solstice as many astronomers and astrologers alike have speculated that the fabled Star of Bethlehem (aka the Christmas Star) was actually a Great Conjunction!
So how can you catch a glimpse of this phenomenon? Well, as Elphaba sings in Wicked, “Look to the western sky!” Seriously! Just after sunset, approximately 4:30 p.m. local time, if you look to the southwest, you should be able to see Jupiter and Saturn on display as one twinkling star. Get outside or to the window quickly though because after about 5:30 p.m., they will also start setting. Don’t worry if you have an important Zoom meeting or your kids are demanding that you heat up their dino nuggets—or if it’s just cloudy in your area—because although tonight is the exact alignment, the two will remain close and visible until January 7th. Though, the timeframe for catching them after the sunset does get shorter and shorter as the days go on, so definitely check it out ASAP if you can! Some of you might have even caught them looking shiny and beautiful alongside a sweet crescent moon earlier this week.
The closest the two will get by declination—the distance north or south from the equator, meaning the brightest they’ll be—is actually on December 25th, so be sure to plan a viewing as part of this year’s most unusual Christmas celebrations! Astrologically, the meeting of these two planets is a cultural reset and the dawn of a new era.
So grab a warm drink and take a moment to sip and stare and enjoy the celestial moment.