Rare three-planet conjunction of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn to illuminate the sky this weekend

jupiter saturn
A picture taken on December 21, 2020, in al-Salmi district, a desert area 120 km west of Kuwait City, shows the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

Last month, Jupiter and Saturn treated skywatchers to a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime “great conjunction,” when they were closer in the night sky than they had been since medieval times. Now, as our solar system’s two largest planets continue to drift apart, they will be joined by a third — Mercury — forming a rare three-planet conjunction.

A triple conjunction is traditionally defined as two planets meeting each other three times in a short timeframe but NASA has also used the term to refer to three planets meeting. A planetary trio is defined by planets within a circle with a diameter less than 5 degrees in width — which can be visualized as three fingers held together at an arm’s length, according to EarthSky.

The last one occurred in October 2015.

How to watch

The planetary trio can best be spotted at dusk, from Friday through Monday. All three will be visible low in the western sky, close to the sunset point on the horizon, EarthSky said.

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