Winter Solstice Sets Stage for Great Conjunction

December 21st marks the first day of Winter or Winter Solstice. This year’s Solstice is marked by the ‘Great Conjunction’ of Saturn and Jupiter. These two planets will appear closest they have been in the sky since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226!

Astronomers use the word ‘conjunction’ to describe meetings of planets and other objects on our sky’s dome. They use the term ‘great conjunction’ to describe Jupiter and Saturn’s meetings, the two largest planets in our solar system.

The Great Conjunction will be visible in the southwestern sky after sunset, until 7:40 PM, when they will dip below the horizon. Viewers won’t need special equipment to see the spectacle, though the farther away from city lights, the better. If you have a pair of binoculars, that may help you distinguish between the two planets. NASA has a few tips for photographing the event.