Saturn and Jupiter 'Great Conjunction' 2020: Why it's worth seeing

Two giant planets — Saturn and Jupiter — will draw close together (visually speaking) just ahead of Christmas, providing a unique winter solstice and the chance to see the closest 'conjunction' in 800 years. What does the celestial event mean and why should you check it out yourself? Here's a quick explanation.

The 'Great Conjunction' refers to Saturn and Jupiter when they seem, from your perspective on Earth, to meet or completely pass each other in the sky. A conjunction can involve any two celestial bodies, but the 'great' honorific is reserved for giant planets like Jupiter.

Jupiter and Saturn have their conjunction every couple of decades, but some are more notable than others — and 2020 is one of those special years. The last Great Conjunction between these two planets happened back in 2000, but they didn't appear too close to each other, relatively speaking.

This time around, however, the two planets will appear — from your perspective on the ground — to be nearly touching each other, forming one giant 'Christmas star.' The conjunction will happen on December 21, as well, the shortest day of the year and one known as the winter solstice.

The timing of the Great Conjunction in, well, conjunction with how great it'll be compared to previous ones, makes the event one worth checking out yourself. The last time these two planets came so close together, visually, was way back in the early 1600s, though that one was likely too close to the Sun for people to witness.