Very soon, we will be enjoying a stellar and unusual spectacle that has not been observed in over 800 years.
On the 21st of December, you can see planetary conjunction on the winter solstice.
For the first time after the middle ages, Saturn and Jupiter will get so close to each other in the night sky that they will appear as a bright “double star”. The two largest stars in the solar system will be visible in the western sky.
Forbes magazine noted that the planets will seem as though they are extremely close, but in reality, they will not be close at all. Moreover, Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University, stated that the alignments between Saturn and Jupiter are extremely rare, occurring every 20 years or so.
This rare celestial event can be seen from anywhere on Earth.
If the sky is clear and you have a clear view to the southwest, you will be able to see the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn from anywhere on Earth 30 – 35 minutes after sunset, near the constellation Capricorn. Even though the planets will seem closest on the 21st of December, you can watch it every evening of the Christmas week.
In what the astronomers are calling great conjunction or a meeting between the two largest planets in the solar system, they will appear aligned from the Earth`s perspective and be 0.1 degrees apart, or one fifth the diameter of the moon.
Jupiter is five times the distance of Earth from the sun, or about 484 miles away. Saturn is double than that. Because of the great distance, the planets need ages to make a single revolution around the sun.
The last time Saturn and Jupiter appeared so close was in 1623, just 14 years after Galileo created his first telescope and found the moons of Jupiter. Another similar conjunction will not happen until March 18, 2080, and the next time will be in year 2400.