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Tonight marks one of the most significant astrology and astronomy events in 2020. It’s already the winter solstice—and while many of us think of December 21 as the shortest day of the year, astrologers and astronomers prefer to see it as the longest night of the year. Not only does the sheer amount of darkness we experience on the winter solstice make it a perfect night for stargazing, tonight is the long-awaited conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. The two planets will be closer than ever, appearing to the naked eye as a double planet or one steadily and vibrantly shining star (that many have dubbed the “Christmas Star”).
For most of the summer and fall, Saturn and Jupiter have been coming closer and closer, and that attraction will culminate tonight in a rarely seen phenomenon. The alignment of Saturn and Jupiter happens every 20 years, but we haven’t seen planets come this close since 1226. There was only one other time in the last 800 years that the two planets have seen a conjunction on this scale, but it was in 1623, when the naked eye wasn’t able to see it because the conjunction happened too close to the sun.
The significance of the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction is two-fold. First, from an astronomical perspective, these planets will not see this much alignment again until 2080. For those wondering how to see the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction, NASA and a number of astronomers have weighed in and suggest the best viewing will be from twilight to just after sundown. Obviously, weather can always get in the way of an astronomy event like this, so start your stargazing early, thereby giving yourself the best chance of seeing the conjunction clearly. You’ll want to gaze southwest to glimpse Jupiter appear as though it’s sliding in front of Saturn as they seemingly switch places in the sky. The darker it gets, the clearer you’ll be able to see the two planets in conjunction, but the trick is to catch the “Christmas star” before the two planets sink below the horizon line.
The conjunction is equally important from an astrological perspective. As we move into the “Age of Aquarius,” the focus has already turned to the Air signs (Aquarius, Libra, and Gemini). The Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions of the last 200 years have happened primarily in Earth signs. But tonight, the event astrologers call “The Great Conjunction,” is happening in Aquarius, kicking off the era of conjunctions within Air signs. And it’s auspicious not only because of its rarity, and this new dawn of conjunctions, but because this highly anticipated conjunction is happening on the winter solstice.