The Atlantic

Jupiter and Saturn Are Just Showing Off Now

This year is ending with a rare cosmic alignment.
Source: The Atlantic

Tonight, if it’s not cloudy, look for two points of light huddled together in the night sky—one as bright as a star, the other slightly dimmer. Step outside an hour after sunset, stick a hand out, and cover them with your thumb. There, in the space of a fingertip, you’ll hold Jupiter, Saturn, and the many moons around them both.

Jupiter and Saturn come together like this in Earth’s night sky only once every 20 years, when the orbits of all three planets align. From our perspective, the giant planets have journeyed together across the evening sky all year. In the past few weeks, they’ve appeared a tiny fraction of a degree closer , like a cosmic stop-motion animation.

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