A Google Doodle celebrating the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn and the solstice of Dec. 21, 2020. (Image credit: Google)
Google treated internet searchers around the world to a pair of animated doodles celebrating the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn and the solstice, both occurring on Dec. 21.
Tonight, Jupiter and Saturn will come so close in Earth’s sky that they may appear as one bright point, instead of two separate planets. While the pair near each other in a conjunction once every 20 years, humans haven’t been able to see them this closely aligned in about 800 years; the only intervening great conjunction occurred during daylight.
To celebrate the occasion, Google put together an animation replacing its two “O”s with the planet Saturn, swinging in to high-five Jupiter and doff its rings to its fellow gas giant, all while a tiny Earth below looks on in excitement.
Great conjunction 2020: NASA tips to see the Christmas star of Jupiter & Saturn
Of course, while Jupiter and Saturn will appear to approach each other as seen from Earth’s sky, the two planets will remain as far away from each other in the solar system’s expanses as ever. Our perspective from Earth’s surface simply doesn’t allow us to discern the distance between Jupiter and Saturn.
Google users in North America, Europe and Asia were treated to a special version of the doodle, with snow adorning the remaining letters in the search function’s name to mark the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice.
Editor’s note: If you capture an amazing view of the Great Conjunction of Dec. 21 and would like to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery, send images and comments in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Meghan Bartels at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.