It’s an intergalactic threesome that doesn’t involve Uranus.
Did you think the ‘dual planet’ 2020 was awesome? This weekend, astronomers can see Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn sharing the sky in a stunning “triple conjunction”.
As a service to sky watchers, we’ve put together everything you need to know about this interstellar phenomenon.
What is the “triple conjunction”?
A triple conjunction occurs when three planets line up in the sky, forming a sort of celestial conga line.
During this year’s triple header, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn will appear within 2 degrees of each other in the constellation Capricorn, Forbes reported.
NASA wrote that “from Friday evening to Monday evening, the planet Mercury will appear to pass [by] first Saturn then Jupiter as it moves away from the horizon, visible each evening low in the west-southwest and setting before the end of evening twilight.
How to see the show
The window to catch this cosmic congregation is short. EarthSky reports that the planetary trio will be visible at dusk but will set by nightfall, so astronomers will ideally need to park on a clear horizon within 30 minutes of sunset.
Once at an appropriate vantage point, sky watchers are advised to gaze down on the west-southwest horizon, according to NASA.
While binoculars are recommended, intergalactic observers can witness the triple conjunction with the naked eye by first looking for Jupiter – the brightest of the three – and then spotting Saturn and Mercury.
When does the next triple conjunction take place?
After this weekend, the next time these three planets align, it will be right before Valentine’s Day, February 13.
In fact, this particular trio occurs quite frequently by space standards, with the most recent interplanetary rendezvous having taken place in 2015. In contrast, last month’s “Christmas star” marked the first Jupiter-Saturn conjunction since. 1226.