In rare sky show, Jupiter and Saturn will nearly 'touch' on the winter solstice

On the night of December 21, stargazers will be in for a holiday treat as the two bright planets appear closer together than at any time in the past 400 years.

Jupiter and Saturn shine on a clear July night over a lavender field near the village of Brihuega, Spain. In December 2020, the two planets will appear the closest as seen from Earth since 1623.

Photograph by CMarcos del Mazo, Alamy Live News

Stargazers are in for a rare treat in the days just head of Christmas, as two of the solar system’s brightest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, engage in a celestial dance that will bring them within planetary kissing distance in the evening sky.

The moment of closest approach arrives on December 21—the winter solstice for those in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of summer for those in the Southern Hemisphere. The two planets will appear closer together than at any time in almost 400 years in an event known as a great conjunction.

Best of all, the spectacle, which will be visible from all over the world, can be enjoyed without any special equipment—just look southwest, as soon as the sky

DON'T MISS THE REST OF THIS STORY!
Create a free account to continue and get unlimited access to hundreds of Nat Geo articles, plus newsletters.

Create your free account to continue reading

No credit card required. Unlimited access to free content.
Or get a Premium Subscription to access the best of Nat Geo - just $19
SUBSCRIBE

Read This Next

'World’s worst shipwreck' was bloodier than we thought
World’s first ultrasounds of wild manta rays reveal a troubling truth
Titanic was found during secret Cold War Navy mission

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet