Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury are coming together in a three-planet conjunction for the second time in 2021 but it will be the last such event for more than 5 years. Conjunctions involving more than two planets are so extremely rare that before January 2021, the last one occurred in 2015.
This year, however, we are fortunate to see Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury form a triangle in the sky twice. With this said, if you missed their conjunction in January, prepare your binoculars and find them on the eastern horizon tomorrow morning!
When will the Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury conjunction happen?
This second meeting of the three planets will happen between February 25 and 28 giving you a chance to follow the movement of the planets for four mornings straight.
Unlike the previous three-planet conjunction in January, this one will happen in the final minutes before dawn. Last time, the three planets were only visible shortly after sunset.
Search for the three planets low on the eastern horizon in the final minutes before dawn on February 24. If you awake early in the mornings, we recommend going out each day in order to follow Jupiter’s movement. On the 24th, the gas giant will appear closest to the horizon below Mercury and Saturn, but as the days pass, it will rise higher and align closer to Mercury.
To get a better chance at seeing the three-planet conjunction, we recommend going away from the city or at least, locate yourself at a high location that gives you a better view of the low horizon. Furthermore, if you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope, there is hardly a better time to use them. Since the planets will all appear very low on the horizon, it could be hard to spot them with the naked eye from certain locations around the globe.
What else do I need to mention? It is a fact that Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury have not been this close in more than two decades and we will likely never see them in an identical alignment ever again.
Difference between a three-planet conjunction and a triple conjunction
Here is a common mistake – many people do not know the difference between the three-planet conjunction and the triple conjunction. People often think that they mean the same thing but in reality, they are completely different astronomical events.
A three-planet conjunction is what we will see in the following days – the alignment of three planets. A triple conjunction, however, is when two celestial objects pass each other three times within a certain short period of time.
When will the next three-planet conjunction happen?
After the upcoming conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury, we will not see a similar astronomical event in more than 5 years. The next one will occur in 2026 and will include Venus, Jupiter, and Mars. In other words, try not to miss this one. Five years is a period too long to look forward to.
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• Edwards, C. (2021, February 22). Conjunction of Jupiter, saturn, Mercury – won’t happen again for five years.
• Mailonline, R. (2021, February 23). Jupiter, Saturn and mercury will all be visible from the UK DURING triple conjunction.
• Makoni, A. (2021, February 24). Triple conjunction: Jupiter, Saturn, and MERCURY visible together in night sky.