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Jupiter and Saturn seen together on December 13. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Jupiter and Saturn will appear as a double planet in the night sky Monday evening thanks to a rare planetary alignment.

Why it matters: A "great conjunction" where these two planets are seen this close together is exceedingly rare. According to NASA, the last time Jupiter and Saturn appeared this close together was 400 years ago, but it's been about 800 years since this kind of alignment happened at night.

What's happening: Jupiter and Saturn have been moving closer and closer together from Earth's perspective for a number of days.

  • In order to see the two planets, step outside under clear skies not long after sundown and look to the southwest.
  • Jupiter will look brighter than Saturn and will appear just above the ringed planet.
  • If you hold out your hand to the sky, the tip of your pinky will be able to cover both planets at once, according to NASA.
  • The two planets will be bright enough to see from most cities.

Be smart: Jupiter and Saturn aren't actually physically close together. The two planets are still separated by hundreds of millions of miles.

  • This conjunction is simply a fun fluke of orbital dynamics that we can see from Earth's perspective.

Go deeper: Learn how to photograph the conjunction from NASA.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 12, 2021 - Science

Scientists discover 10 billion-year-old "super-Earth" planet

Artist's illustration of the planet TOI-561b. Image: W. M. Keck Observatory/Adam Makarenko

Scientists have discovered a rocky “super-Earth” planet in an ancient star system that likely formed 10 billion years ago, only a few billion years after our Milky Way galaxy came to be.

Why it matters: The newfound planet likely can't support life, but in general, researchers think older planetary systems have better odds of possibly harboring life because they're long-lived.

Updated 12 mins ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"