Facebook Memories 💫 One of the features of the planets is that they all lie along the ecliptic, which is a circle in the sky that roughly corresponds to the plane of the solar system. So each month, the moon passes by each of the planets. Since Jupiter and Saturn are currently so close together, look for the moon to pass between these planets over a span of successive evenings.
Jupiter and Saturn have appeared close on our sky’s dome throughout 2019, but they’re due to get even closer in the coming months. Their conjunction will come on December 21, 2020.
According to Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion, planets move faster in their orbits if they are closer to the sun. Conversely, the further a planet is away from the sun, the slower it moves.
Jupiter is quite far from the sun at five astronomical units, and a “year” on Jupiter is as long as 12 Earth years. So Jupiter is seen passing through the zodiac at the leisurely rate of one constellation to the east per year. This is why Jupiter was passing through Libra last year and is now in Scorpius in 2019.
Saturn is nearly twice as far from the sun as Jupiter, 9.5 astronomical units, and thus the Saturn “year” is 29.5 years in length. Saturn therefore requires more than two years to move through a single zodiac constellation.
At this rate, Jupiter “catches up” with Saturn after a span of years. About every 20 years, Jupiter and Saturn line up in a rare planetary conjunction. When that happens, Jupiter and Saturn are lined up with each as seen from the sun.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will occur on December 21, 2020. At that time, these planets will line up quite close to the sun, as seen from the Earth. They will be low in the sunset sky.
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