Saturn and Jupiter converge

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The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was visible Tuesday night, December 22, 2020 from Des Moines, despite some clouds.

This footage shows the "great conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn as seen from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

Conjunctions happen every 20 years, and the last one was in the year 2000.

Stargazers were in awe looking through the telescope to find Jupiter and Saturn side by side.

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The term - great conjunction - is reserved for Jupiter and Saturn only. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.

Even though the closest alignment of Jupiter and Saturn will appear just a tenth of a degree apart, they remain hundreds of millions of miles apart in space.

In that same year, Galileo also discovered a unusual oval surrounding Saturn, which later observations determined to be its rings.

And while the conjunction is happening on the same day as the winter solstice, the timing is merely a coincidence, based on the orbits of the planets and the tilt of the Earth. The best tip to spot them is to look for a bright star (Planet Jupiter) half an hour after sunset towards southwest. Additionally, the planetary alignment came just a few days before Christmas, with many dubbing the bright event a "Christmas Star", adding even more to the astronomical excitement. We can also see four moons of Saturn and three of Jupiter.

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