This weekend, the moon will have back to back conjunctions with two planets for the second time this month, reports Space.com. Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon will appear in close proximity in the sky August 28 and 29. The incredible sight will be visible to the naked eye, without the necessity of binoculars or a telescope. This phenomenon closes an entire month of impressive planet viewing.
Friday evening, the moon will sit right below Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. The waxing gibbous moon will appear quite close to the giant planet. Saturn will be visible to the left of the two, creating a long acute triangle. The moon will be just two finger-widths away from Jupiter. According to In The Sky, this close approach of the two objects is called an “applause.”
The following night, the Moon and Saturn will take up a similar position to the previous night’s appearance of Moon and Jupiter. The ringed planet will be above and slightly right of the moon. Saturn is not as bright as Jupiter, so ideal viewing won’t be until after the sun has fully set. Again, the three will form a triangle, so they will all be visible close together.
Both applauses will set the planets and the moon close enough to see the two planets in conjunction within the field of view of binoculars. If you have binoculars and a clear view of the sky, it will be easy to catch a great visual this weekend, whether you are close to a city or in the middle of nature.
Thrillist reports Jupiter and Saturn conjunctions are visible from most cities, saying it’s unnecessary to “wind your way out to a rural area” like you would need to do to vividly see other space phenomenons, like meteor showers.
Upcoming Great Conjunction
These two conjunctions lead to the rare “great conjunction,” which will occur December 21, 2020. A great conjunction refers to the meeting of Jupiter and Saturn. It has been 20 years since the last great Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, on May 28, 2000. This December’s will be historic, according to Earth Sky. This year’s great conjunction will mark the closest Jupiter and Saturn have been since 1623; the planets have not been this near each other in almost 400 years.