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As Jupiter and Saturn align, dozens show up to see rare 'Great Conjunction'

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BATON ROUGE - If you looked into the sky as the sun set Monday night, you likely saw two specks, which could easily be mistaken for stars, shining brightly.

The planets Jupiter and Saturn were closer together than they had been in centuries.

"It is a once in a lifetime experience," Jeremy Wesley said. "I'll be 100 years old when the next one comes around, so yeah, something different to get out and do."

A long line formed at BREC's Burbank Soccer Complex before the two planets aligning became visible. Some spectators showed up with binoculars, while others tried getting a glimpse with their phones. For some, though, the "Christmas Star" was notable all on its own.

"I thought that it was just really interesting ... how we could see things with our naked eye instead of using some technology," Jeremy's son Philip Wesley said.

A half-dozen telescopes of varying sizes and ranges lined the side of the open field as a crew from Highland Road observatory helped every masked visitor get a look for themselves, one by one.

"I was looking. I was like, 'I don't see it, I don't see it,'" Jackie Gaff said. "Then they had telescopes set up, thank God for that. Looking through the telescopes I could see it real clearly along with one of its moons."

Some planet-gazers brought their own telescopes.

"I figured this is a good, dark sky to come see the planets conjoin," Mike Krueger said.

Krueger and his wife used their telescope to capture clear images of Saturn and its rings, as well as Jupiter and its moons as they tracked across the night sky.

"I got him a telescope for his birthday a few years ago, and it's just been a fun hobby that we both do together," Jennifer Krueger said.

The crowd was a mix of those fascinated with science and space, and those just looking for a reason to leave the house. The Great Conjunction added a bright moment on the longest night of the year.

"I started thinking about 2020 and everything that we've gone through," Gaff said. "I was like maybe things are coming together now to make a change, so we'll see different from one season to the next."

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