Backyard Observatory

Mars and Jupiter Will Have a Rare Meeting in the Sky on Friday Morning

mars jupiter conjunction
Alan Dyer /VW PICS/UIG via Getty Images

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn have been a focal point for morning stargazers throughout March. They've been hanging around in the same area and even had a little grouping with the moon earlier this week. Now, Mars and Jupiter are going to keep things exciting with a rare conjunction in the morning hours of Friday, March 20.

A conjunction occurs when two celestial bodies have a close approach from our perspective on Earth. Of course, the objects are still very, very far apart. Mars and Jupiter are around 365 million miles from each other when they're at their absolute closest, which is some solid social distancing. Nonetheless, Mars and Jupiter will appear to almost touch in the sky on March 20. They'll pass within 0.7 degrees of each other, Space.com reports. You'll just have to get outside and look up at the right time. 

mars jupiter conjunction
YouTube/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Unlike conjunctions between the moon and planets, conjunctions between Mars and Jupiter are relatively rare. The last one occurred on January 7, 2018, and prior to that, you'd have to go back to November 17, 2015, according to EarthSky.

As has been the case with these planets throughout March, you'll want to look to the east about two hours before sunrise to see them coming together. You'll also be able to spot Saturn not too far away from the meeting. Fortunately, if you can't catch the close encounter on March 20, they'll still be pretty close to each other on the morning of March 21, per NASA.

And for the rest of the month, you'll still be able to catch all three planets hanging out in the morning sky like your grandfather's morning coffee group.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.