One of last year's astronomical highlights occurred on the winter solstice 2020, when Jupiter and Saturn appeared exceptionally close in a historic conjunction. Just a few months after that event, Jupiter will be getting cozy with a different planet in the night sky. Here's everything you need to know about the conjunction of Jupiter and Mercury on March 5, 2021.
What is the Jupiter-Mercury conjunction?
A conjunction happens when two celestial bodies appear close together when viewed from Earth. On the morning of March 5, the largest planet in the solar system and the smallest (at least as of 2006) will come within 19.4 arcminutes of each other in the sky's dome. That distance is roughly two-thirds the width of the moon.
How to see the Conjunction of Jupiter and Mercury
Because Mercury is so small and close to the sun, it's difficult to spot on most nights. On March 5, you may have better luck finding it. Jupiter will appear large and bright, so once you locate the gas giant, look for Mercury immediately to the left of it.
The two planets will be visible over the eastern horizon about 45 minutes before sunrise the morning of Friday, March 5. They will be close enough to observe at the same time through a telescope or a pair of binoculars, though you should also be able to see them with your naked eye. If you aren't able to catch the peak of the conjunction on March 5, Jupiter and Mercury will still appear exceptionally close together in the surrounding days.