The year 2020 is going to enter into history due to a pandemic, which eats up the entire year with lots of life. However, for the astronomy lovers, this year is also going to set the history for the night sky lovers. December Solstice is going to witness one of the rare conjunction Jupiter and Saturn on 21st December 2020. It is the rarest moment because it will be closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226!
Jupiter and Saturn usually follow each other closely and their conjunction to be witnessed every 20 years in the sky, the two planets will appear to trade positions and Jupiter overtakes Saturn on its path. It is going to special this year because both will fit in the same viewfinder of the telescope.
Both are Giant planets, so it will be marked as the great conjunction too. In-fact their visibility closeness can be distinguished only by the telescopic eye only, otherwise, Saturn won’t be appearing thru naked eyes. 21st December 2020 – On the day of the conjunction, gas giant Jupiter and ringmaster ‘Saturn’ will be having closeness mere by 0.1 degrees. This is unique because the light of Saturn and Jupiter will merge together and will appear as a single bright “star”.
Their light will be visible in the evening sky just after sunset (from Delhi-India), and both will meet close to the southwestern horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, or the western horizon in the Southern Hemisphere. They will set within a couple of hours or so, so it is important to have a clear view of the horizon. Some part of the world is recognizing this event as ‘Christmas star’ or ‘Bethlehem’ star.
The whole world is getting ready to witness this special event:
- NASA is conducting a program on how to see Jupiter and Saturn’s great conjunctions. This event scheduled for 17th Dec 2020 at 03:00 PM (EST).
- A live virtual webcast of the conjunction.
History of Great conjuctions:
- The year 1623 – On July 16, 1623, this kind of event was observed, though there were limited ways to observe the sky, however, it was well noted by people and recognized as well. However, this conjunction was one of the greatest but it was near to the SUN so wasn’t so easy to observe.
- The year 1226 – Nearly 800 years ago, this event was clearly visible where Jupiter and Saturn visible in the sky merely from a distance of 0.1 degrees.
You must watch this event, if possible today (17th December 2020) Moon is going to join their company in an hour so must visit this holistic view of sky.