By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s too far away to give an accurate forecast of what the weather will be like in Colorado on December 21, but let’s hope for clear skies this year. That’s because on the night of the winter solstice there will be a ‘great conjunction’ of the two biggest planets in our solar system.

(credit: NASA/JPL/Southwest Research Institute)

Because of the close proximity of Saturn and Jupiter on the night of the winter solstice (Dec. 21) the two celestial bodies will almost appear as one giant star from our view on Earth. Some people are referring to this as the “Christmas Star” or the “Star of Bethlehem.” With the use of a telescope you may even be able to see both planets simultaneously in the same field of view.

Jupiter NASA

This striking view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and turbulent southern hemisphere was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet on Feb. 12, 2019. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)

A conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn takes place every 20 years, but according to EarthSky.org, this will be the closest conjunction since 1623, which was just over a decade after Galileo made his first telescope. However, that conjunction was very close to the sun so it was most likely not visible experts say. For the closest visible conjunction you’d have to go all the way back to medieval times in the year 1226.

For the great conjunction of 2020 Jupiter and Saturn will appear to be only 0.1 degrees apart, which is just 1/5 of a full moon diameter. The next great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter will take place on March 15, 2080.

While December 21 is when these two planets will be the closest, you can start watching the show as early as tonight. In the days ahead Jupiter and Saturn will get closer and closer each night until winter solstice.

Chris Spears