We all know about the two of the biggest planets of the solar system are Jupiter and Saturn. This both planet will form ‘The Great Conjuction’ in the sky tonight. Today, on 21st December 21, it also marks the winter solstice (the time by which sun reaches it’s maximum or minimum declination) in the Northern Hemisphere. Today will be the longest night of the year 2020.
What is ‘The Great Conjuction’?
The Great Conjunction is a rare astronomic event. This event will occur tonight. Saturn and Jupiter are the two largest planets of our solar system. This both planet will almost nearly overlap in order to form a “double planet,” this is an event that hasn’t been visible and has been marked since the Middle Ages.
According to Dr. Yashwant Gupta is the Director of National Centre for Radio Astrophysics which is known as the NCRA. He said that this phenomenon last took place in the year 1623 and the next time this event will take place it will be after the year 2080.
He also said that the distance between the planets will remain the same as it is but the angle of viewing it from our planet Earth will be aligned. From the Earth, the two planets – Jupiter and Saturn will be viewed only 0.1 degrees apart from each other.
Space.com reported that Jupiter and Saturn are seen to be in conjunction when they have the same right action of rising or celestial longitude. They signified the rarity of this union that will occur today because unlike the conjunctions that take place with the other bright planets, these two planets don’t get close as often.
When, how to watch ‘The Great Conjuction’?
Dr Gupta told that the conjunction can be viewed soon after the sunset on 21st December, which is, tonight.
He further said that by 7:30 pm, both the planets will be visible low on the horizon as they will start to set down like the sun.
The planet Saturn will be the smaller, it will be fainter blob at Jupiter’s upper right. Binoculars will be needed to see the two planets seperate.
Although it will be appearing super close, both these planets – Jupiter and Saturn will be actually more than 450 million miles which is approx. 730 million km apart. On the other hand, Earth will be 550 million miles which is 890 million km away from Jupiter.
A telescope will help to not only capture and see Jupiter and Saturn in the same field of view, but it will also help see some of their brightest moons.
Their next super-close pairing of these two planets will is expected in the month of March in the year 2080.
Nasa tells you how to watch the phenomenon
According to the Nasa, here’s how you can watch the phenomenon yourself:
-First you need to find a spot where you can have an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park or something like that. Jupiter and Saturn are bright planets and hence they can be seen even from most of the cities.
-After approx. an hour after the sunset gets done, look to the southwestern sky. The planet Jupiter will look like a bright star and it will be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and it will appear slightly above. It will appear to the left of Jupiter until the 21st December, when Jupiter will overtake it after that they will reverse positions in the sky.
-You will be able to see the planets with the naked eye. If you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may also be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons which are orbiting the giant planet.