If you’re sad that you missed the Christmas star from last month, and thought you’d have to wait awhile before glimpsing another dazzling celestial phenomenon, think again. A “triple conjunction” is happening this weekend, and no, that’s not a grammar term you learned about in middle school. A triple conjunction is a rare occurrence when two or more planets align in the night sky when viewed from Earth.
Saturn takes 29 years to orbit the sun, Jupiter takes 12 years, and Mercury takes 88 days, forming a triple conjunction when all three will be visible to us at once. This rare spectacle is happening just after sunset on January 9, 10, 11. On the first two days, all three planets will form a triangle, while on the third, Mercury will appear next to Jupiter.
Since the conjunction will appear on the west-southwest horizon, however, it might be difficult to actually see. Thirty minutes after sunset is projected to be the best time to catch a glimpse. As always, viewing from a low-light location is preferable for the best view. Jupiter will be more easily visible with the naked eye, while Saturn and Mercury will be a bit tougher to spot without a telescope.