"The Closest Meeting of the Two Largest Planets for 20 Years!"

Scheduled air date: 2000 May 29-Jun 04

Click on the above image to see an animated QuickTime® presentation! (683 KB)
During the first few months of this year, the planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn appeared to approach each other as they dropped lower in the evening sky each night.  By late April, Jupiter and Saturn could no longer be seen in the evening sky, followed a couple of weeks later by Mars.
(Positions shown at one-week intervals, about an hour after sunset for mid-Northern latitudes.)

This week, however, Jupiter and Saturn—the two largest planets in our Solar System—have emerged into the morning sky and will appear a mere one degree apart—their closest for the next 20 years!
(Shown about 25 minutes before sunrise for mid-Northern latitudes.)

Although Jupiter and Saturn appear very close in Earth's sky, they are really about 400 million mi. / 600 million km apart, as seen in this view from high above the Solar System.

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.

Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows.

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