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'Christmas Star' or conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn: On December 21 you will see rare phenomenon

Author : 112.ua News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

Jupiter and Saturn from Earth will look like one big star, which can be seen even with the naked eye. And with the help of a telescope you can see the rings of Saturn
14:17, 21 December 2020

The ‘Great’ Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
NASA

Though the current year 2020 was not the best one ever, in the end, it prepared a rare New Year's surprise for us. On December 21 in the sky, you will be able to see a "Christmas Star" - the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. This conjunction of the planets will be special because the last time the planets came so close to each other 397 years ago.

Learn more about this phenomenon, and read tips on how best to observe it.

Two planets as a Christmas star

From the Earth on December 21, one large bright "Christmas star" will be visible - if you look with the naked eye, the distance between them will not exceed a tenth of a degree, and the little finger at arm's length will easily cover both planets in the sky. But in reality, a distance of hundreds of millions of kilometers will remain between Jupiter and Saturn. But even this distance is a record.

Jupiter and Saturn approach each other every 19 years, but this time the planets will converge at the closest distance since the 17th century. This only happens once in a lifetime, so don't miss it.

Observing the movement of the planets, people understood the principle of the solar system long before they could go into space.

Since this event takes place before Christmas (Catholic), many people speak of this conjunction as the famous Star of Bethlehem.

How to observe the phenomenon

The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
NASA

Although the great conjunction takes place on December 21, it is possible to observe the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn every night. Besides, it is possible to watch the movement of the planet as series: firstly, Saturn will be a little weaker and it will appear quite higher and a little more to the left from Jupiter until December 21; when Jupiter catches up to Saturn, they will exchange places in the sky.

‘Christmas Star’ will be especially beautiful with the presence of a telescope as astronomer from the American Museum of Natural History in New York Jackie Faherty stated.

“If you have a telescope, you’ll be able to see both the rings of Saturn and the Galilean moons of Jupiter close together at the same moment,” he said.

Besides, you can see the upcoming conjunction in detail through binoculars. The best feature of the event is that it is possible to observe ‘Christmas Star’ without equipment. All you need for it is:

  • To find a place, where it is possible to observe the sunset with a clear horizon without trees or buildings, e.g a field.
  • Approximately an hour after the sunset, Jupiter appears in the west, and then Saturn will appear. Both glowing points can be distinguished from the start because they are not gleaming.

One more piece of advice from NASA – it is easy to take photos of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn through a DSLR camera and many cell phone cameras. It is offered to use a ‘night mode’ regime of iPhone, Pixel, or Galaxy to get a stable photo with long-exposure.

“To make your photo more interesting, try to frame the planets with something – the silhouette of a tree, an outdoor landscape, the arch of a building, or even a neon sign,” NASA said.

The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
NASA

It might be difficult for ‘viewers’ from the U.S., Canada, and Europe to see ‘Christmas Star’ because it will be situated low on the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere. It is better to observe it closer to the Equator.

If the sky is cloudy – it is not a reason for worries as the conjunction will last from December 17 until December 25.

One more bonus

The winter solstice
Royal Museums Greenwich

The stargazers will get extra bonus in the form of one more significant astronomical event to ‘Christmas Star’. On December 21, the winter solstice takes place – the longest night in a year after which the days become longer day after day and the night become shorter. The fact that the solstice and the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn take place on the same day is just a coincidence as the astronomers stated.

“The date of the conjunction is determined by the positions of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Earth in their paths around the Sun, while the date of the solstice is determined by the tilt of Earth’s axis. The solstice is the longest night of the year, so this rare coincidence will give people a great chance to go outside and see the solar system,” NASA astronomer Henry Throop said.

After the end of great conjunction, the astronomers will need to wait 60 years until the next event. Another rendezvous of giant planets will take place on March 15, 2080.

 

 

 

Topics:
Система Orphus

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