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Jupiter, Saturn And Mercury Will Shine In Triple-Conjunction Tonight

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 10 Jan 2021 09:29
Jupiter, Saturn And Mercury Will Shine In Triple-Conjunction TonightPixabay

Jupiter, Saturn And Mercury will gather tonight, January 10, for a magnificent triple-conjunction.

The celestial attraction comes after there was the great conjunction last month between Jupiter and Saturn; and now Mercury has joined the party, too.

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Last month’s conjunction was also dubbed the ‘Christmas star’ after it occurred just a few days before Christmas. The two planets came so close to one another, from Earth they appeared as one, bright star.

Starry Night

While Jupiter and Saturn appeared to have practically overlapped with one another, it’s thought that tonight’s conjunction will see the three planets form a small triangle instead, reports LiveScience.com, and will fit within a circle smaller than five degrees.

According to Space.com, the the three planets have be contained in this tiny circle since Friday, January 8, and will continue to remain there until Tuesday, January 12.

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However, viewing-wise, it’s predicted that the conjunction will be low in the southwestern evening sky just 30 to 45 minutes after sundown this evening and that Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn will be at their closest today.

Jupiter will be the brightest of the three planets and will glow about two-and-a-half times brighter than Mercury, and a whopping ten times brighter than Saturn.

JupiterNASA/Bjorn Jonsson

Jupiter will also be at the top of the triple-conjunction triangle, with Saturn and Mercury creating the two bottom corners.

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It has been recommended that stargazers user binoculars to view the rare event as they will ‘help pick up the planets against the bright twilight sky’.

While the three planets may seem pretty close to each other during the conception, they’re still very far apart. At the beginning of the conjunction a few weeks ago, Jupiter was about 550 million miles from Earth while Saturn was about 1 billion miles away. Imagine the Uber fare for that journey.

Growth of the solar system - presumably three new planetsPA Images

Mercury is much closer to us Earthlings, however, and sits around 120 million miles away.

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Why do they appear to close to one another then, I hear you ask? Livescience.com explains that the three planets look close together because their orbits put them all in a straight line, relative to Earth.

If you miss tonight’s event, something else to keep an eye out for is when the Old Moon visits Venus tomorrow, January 11.

According to Space.com, the pair of planets will rise around 6.40am and will sit ‘a few finger widths’ apart from each other in the sky.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Science, Astronomy, Jupiter, Saturn, Stargazing

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Space.com and 1 other
  1. Space.com

    Don't miss Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury shine in a triple-conjunction this weekend

  2. Livescience.com

    How to watch the rare 'triple conjunction' of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn this Sunday