Planetary Trifecta: Triple Conjunction of Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter

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Jupiter and Saturn put on quite the Solstice show last month by coming together to form the “Christmas Star” but now Mercury is coming into view, setting the celestial scene for a triple conjunction.

The planetary trifecta will be visible at dusk starting tonight through Monday, with NASA saying, “the planet Mercury will appear to pass first by Saturn and then by Jupiter as it shifts away from the horizon, visible each evening low in the west-southwest and setting before evening twilight ends.”

Jupiter will take the top spot tonight and tomorrow, according to the website EarthSky, and the “tightest grouping” of the three will take place on Sunday.

“Depending on your sky conditions and use of optical aid (binoculars), you should be able to watch this planetary trio for several days to a week,” the EarthSky post states.

On Jan. 13, NASA notes that skywatchers may be able to see the “thin waxing crescent Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury, low in the west-southwest” until about a half-hour after sunset, with the planets in an arc above the Moon.

“If you use binoculars, be sure to wait until you are sure the Sun has set to protect your eyes,” NASA cautions. “Mercury will be the highest in the sky, and Wednesday evening will be the first evening that Mercury will be above the horizon at the time evening twilight ends.”

Of course, all things being Humboldt, the forecast is calling for mostly cloudy skies for the next several nights that might mar the view, but luckily 2021 is not being stingy with its cosmic offerings and another triple display — this time Mercury, Venus and Jupiter — is coming in February.

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