The 2020 Conjunction

If you have been looking at the evening sky recently, you may have noticed two "stars", one very bright and another that is dimmer but still one of the first to appear as the sun sets. Every night, you may have also noticed these "stars" moving closer together. These "stars" are not actually stars but two planets: Jupiter and Saturn. Last night, tonight, and for a couple of more nights, Jupiter and Saturn are close enough together (from our perspective) to appear to be one object to the naked eye.

It will be cloudy tonight at my location (even last night it clouded over shortly after it got dark enough to see the planets), but other people may still be able to see this exciting event! If you have a telescope, it is possible to see both planets at the same time in the eyepiece (if you have the right equipment). Even a low magnification will provide a great view:

These pictures were taken at about 53x magnification. These images are nowhere near as good as the actual view was (it was much clearer looking through the eyepiece than the images show, but I literally had enough time to blindly take a few shots and hope they turned out before the clouds rolled in). Even with a very low magnification with binoculars, you can see all four of Jupiter's moons and you may even be able to see a hint of Saturn's rings if you have a steady hand (or a tripod). This is a very rare event that can be a once in a lifetime thing (it happens roughly every 20 years, but there is no guarantee that the weather will be clear the next time it happens), so if you have a clear sky tonight and/or for the next few days, I recommend you go out and look.

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