SASKATOON -- Stargazers are already looking up at the sky, anticipating something that no one has seen in 800 years, as the orbit paths of Saturn and Jupiter overlap, bringing both gas giants into the same field of view.

"Nobody alive today has witnessed it come this close,” said Ron Waldron, president of the Saskatoon Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

“We think they will look like one elongated object, it’s not a perfect lineup but with our vision and our eyes it’s close enough, we think, most people will consider them to be one object.”

It’s called the Great Conjunction, when the paths of our solar system's largest planets line up. While the two planets line up every 20 years or so, in many instances the conjunction isn’t visible because it happens while the planets are behind the sun and out of the earth’s view. 

Waldron said the last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close in our line of sight was in the 1600s.

“But that one was too close to the sun, nobody really saw it, and the last time you could actually see them this close was in the 1200s and the next time they will be this close again and visible will be 2080,” Waldron said. “So how exciting is it? We live for things like this.”

Waldron recommends individuals curious to see this historic celestial event, should head to an area with a clear view of the southwest sky, and just after the sun goes down, search the sky just a few degrees above the horizon and you’ll likely see the two planets close together. 

The two planets will be the closest on Dec. 21, however Waldron doesn’t recommend waiting until that day, because if stubborn clouds cover the sky, the Great Conjunction won’t be visible. 

“For astronomers this is a real opportunity because Jupiter and Saturn are probably the most eye-pleasing objects in a telescope and to be able to get the two of them in the same field of view at the same time is unprecedented,” he said. 

While the University of Saskatchewan Observatory is closed because of COVID-19 restrictions, once those restrictions are lifted, Waldron invites anyone interested in gazing into space, to do so every Saturday night. 

But for now, telescopes will be cleaned up and aimed at the southwest horizon for a chance to witness history.

“We’ve just never had the opportunity to get the two of them in the same field of view at the same time so there will be lots of photos circulating after the event, showing the two of them side by side in the sky.”