SAN ANTONIO – Every 20 years or so, the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter line up to give those of us observing from Earth a treat -- seeing the two planets close together in the night sky. This year, however, the ‘great conjunction’ is getting a bit of extra hype for a few reasons.
The first is that this year’s conjunction will be closest ‘joining’ of the two planets since 1623. When the phenomenon peaks on Monday, December 21, the two planets will appear only 0.1° apart. For reference, that’s about a fifth of the apparent diameter of the moon!
It’s also a happy coincidence that the conjunction is peaking the week of Christmas -- prompting many to nickname the conjunction as the ‘Christmas Star’ or the ‘Bethlehem Star.’
How to view the Great Conjunction
So how can you view this rare event from in and around San Antonio Christmas week? Here are some tips:
- Look to the southwest about 40 to 45 minutes after sunset. That figures out to around 6:20 to 6:25 p.m.
- Although the phenomenon peaks Monday, December 21, the best night to view will actually be Sunday, the 20th. We’ll have clear skies Sunday night, while there could be some clouds Monday evening.
- The conjunction will be visible through Christmas week. However, every night after Monday the planets will be visible closer to the time of sunset -- making it more difficult to see.
- The weather should be a little cool each night. For more on the forecast, check out our weather page!