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Goodbye planetary conjunction, hello planetary trifecta

Planetary trifecta for January. (Christopher Nestman/KTUL)

A lot of folks went outside on December 21 to see Jupiter and Saturn get within 0.1 degree of each other in the night sky. It was a significant event when you consider mankind hasn't seen the two planets get that close in centuries.

As we move into January, Saturn and Jupiter are now slowly moving apart in the night sky, but not before having a short meeting with Mercury.

The trifecta of planets have formed a triangle in the evening sky for a few days now, but Tulsa's forecast is finally clear enough that we should be able to see unobstructed views of the planets after sundown tonight.

All three will be within 5 degrees of each other in the night sky with each side of the triangle about 2 degrees apart. For reference, one degree apart is about the width of your pinky finger against the sky, while your arm is fully extended.

As is with all things planetary though, it won't last too much longer. Both Jupiter and Saturn are slowly sinking on the horizon and will become too close to the sun to visibly see.

Mercury will continue to be visible, however, as it approaches its farthest observed point in its orbit from the sun on January 24th. Even then, it will only be up a short time in the evening as it quickly follows the sun below the horizon after sunset.