The big day is Dec. 21, when Jupiter and Saturn appear closer together in the sky than at any time since March 4, 1226. The separation then was 2.1 arcminutes, even closer than the 6.1 arcminutes we will see on Dec. 21. (Yes there was a separation of only 5.2 in 1623, but it was too close to the Sun to be visible) In the past 2000 years, only one was even closer: that happened on June 3, 372, with a separation of 1.9 arcminutes. The next close conjunction will be on March 15, 2080 with a separation of 6.0 arcminutes, but for another ultra-close conjunction you will have to wait till 2874 when they will be just 2.3 arcminutes apart. Want to see Jupiter actually pass in front of Saturn, blocking our view of everything except the rings? The last time it happened was 8,876 years ago. A bit of a wait for the next one, but well worth it, in the year 7541. Only 5,521 years away!

But the past few days have witnessed exciting views. The lead photo was taken on Dec 16, when the crescent Moon passed near the two great Gods.

The second photo was taken today, Dec. 19. In addition to the planets, three of Jupiter’s moons are also visible!


Photos by C Cunningham, in Tucson