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Meteor shower peaking soon; Best view of Jupiter and Saturn in nearly 800 years

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Posted at 12:41 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 12:54:57-05

(WXYZ) — Jupiter and Saturn are getting closer to each other every night through December 21. The planets will be so close to each other, they'll look like one brighter planet.

A conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn hasn't been this close and visible since the year 1226!

Saturn orbits the sun about every 30 years on earth, and Jupiter orbits the sun about every 12 years. Jupiter "catches up" to Saturn's orbit around every 20 years. While the conjunction happens every 20 years, it's often too close to the sun for us to see from Earth, and not as close as it will be this year.

So look to the western skies right after sunset when the skies are clear enough over the next couple of weeks. The planets will set around 7:50 p.m. eastern.

Here are the next Jupiter Saturn conjunctions:

*October 31, 2040
*April 7, 2060
*March 15, 2080
*September 18, 2100
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GEMINID METEOR SHOWER

NASA calls this the "best meteor shower of the year", and some call it the "most dependable" meteor shower of the year.
The only problem is this meteor shower occurs in December, which means cold weather, and in Michigan, usually cloud cover.

This meteor shower will be peaking Sunday night and Monday night (December 13 & 14.) We typically get about one meteor per minute, or 60 in an hour.

Geminid Meteor Shower
image: earthsky.org

WHEN: The best time to look is 8 p.m to 2 a.m., but you'll still see some through 6 a.m.

WHERE: Get as far away from city lights as you can. It can take 20-30 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the dark skies. Face east/northeast and look partially up from the horizon if you're looking around 8pm-10pm. The meteors will appear to originate from the constellation, "Gemini." The constellation rises around 7pm, and will get higher in the sky through the night.

WEATHER: Clouds will be decreasing right after sunset Sunday. Hopefully we'll have clear enough skies in time, but it will be cold with temps dropping into the 20s Sunday night.