Science

'Great Conjunction': Earthlings treated to rare alignment of Jupiter and Saturn

'Great Conjunction': Earthlings treated to rare alignment of Jupiter and Saturn”

In a rare celestial "Great Conjunction", ttwo largest planets in our solar system are coming closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages.

When Jupiter and Saturn appear close together in the night sky this week, their combined light might be what the Bible's nativity story in the Gospel of Matthew called the Star of Bethlehem, according to faculty and staff at Ball State University.

Jupiter - the brighter and larger of the pair - has been gradually nearing Saturn in the sky for weeks as the two planets proceed around the sun, each in its own lane of an enormous celestial racetrack, said Henry Throop, an astronomer at National Aeronautics and Space Administration headquarters in Washington. "The other reason, of course being the date of the event, as it's so close to Christmas".

This causes the day to have the least period of daylight due to being away from the sun, with the longest night of the year. It took him some serious planning to get this shot And then on 17 December, he took a one-hour drive to the exact spot where he would see the ISS travelling between the two planets. To make one "great", though, requires an encounter between our solar system's two largest planets. The orbits of Jupiter and Saturn align to allow the giant worlds to seemingly convene roughly every 20 years.

Coronaios says seeing the two planets so close together that they fit into a single view of his telescope eyepiece was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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The last time Jupiter and Saturn had such a close pairing was in July 1623.

Viewed through a telescope or even good binoculars, Jupiter and Saturn were no more than one-fifth the diameter of a full moon apart. The 2020's great conjunction coincides with the December solsticeand appear roughly the thickness of a dime held at arm's length.

If you'd like to see the conjunction, Burkhart tells us what to look for.

"From our vantage point, we'll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21", Throop said in a statement last week.

The alignment has been nicknamed the "Christmas Star" but the fact that this event is happening close to Christmas and during the winter solstice is pure coincidence.



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