Celebrate the winter solstice 'great conjunction' with this charming Google doodle

A Google Doodle celebrating the "great conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn and the solstice of Dec. 21, 2020. (Image credit: Google)

Google treated internet searchers around the world to a pair of animated doodles celebrating the "great conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn and the solstice, both occurring on Dec. 21.

Tonight, Jupiter and Saturn will come so close in Earth's sky that they may appear as one bright point, instead of two separate planets. While the pair near each other in a conjunction once every 20 years, humans haven't been able to see them this closely aligned in about 800 years; the only intervening great conjunction occurred during daylight.

To celebrate the occasion, Google put together an animation replacing its two "O"s with the planet Saturn, swinging in to high-five Jupiter and doff its rings to its fellow gas giant, all while a tiny Earth below looks on in excitement.

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Of course, while Jupiter and Saturn will appear to approach each other as seen from Earth's sky, the two planets will remain as far away from each other in the solar system's expanses as ever. Our perspective from Earth's surface simply doesn't allow us to discern the distance between Jupiter and Saturn.

Google users in North America, Europe and Asia were treated to a special version of the doodle, with snow adorning the remaining letters in the search function's name to mark the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice.

Editor's note: If you capture an amazing view of the Great Conjunction of Dec. 21 and would like to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery, send images and comments in to spacephotos@space.com

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at Space.com and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.