Jupiter, Saturn merging in night sky, closest in centuries

Posted: December 20, 2020 by oldbrew in Astronomy, News, solar system dynamics

Credit: wcia.com

How to see it, plus videos – here.
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Jupiter and Saturn will merge in the night sky Monday, appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo’s time in the 17th century, says Phys.org.

Astronomers say so-called conjunctions between the two largest planets in our solar system aren’t particularly rare.

Jupiter passes its neighbor Saturn in their respective laps around the sun every 20 years.

But the one coming up is especially close: Jupiter and Saturn will be just one-tenth of a degree apart from our perspective or about one-fifth the width of a full moon.

They should be easily visible around the world a little after sunset, weather permitting.

Toss in the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest night of the year—and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere—and this just-in-time-for-Christmas spectacle promises to be one of the greatest of Great Conjunctions.

“What is most rare is a close conjunction that occurs in our nighttime sky,” said Vanderbilt University’s David Weintraub, an astronomy professor.

“I think it’s fair to say that such an event typically may occur just once in any one person’s lifetime, and I think ‘once in my lifetime’ is a pretty good test of whether something merits being labeled as rare or special.”

Full article here.
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With binoculars…

[image credit: NASA]

  1. Adam Gallon says:

    Saw them this evening, looks like the UK weather tomorrow, is going to be “Normal British Weather” (ie pissing it down).

  2. Tim Spence says:

    I’ve got this theory that these conjunctions can perhaps be earthquake catalysts.

  3. tempestnut says:

    Photographed them on the 19th from Auckland NZ bit over exposed so that I could get the moons. Hand held 1/5th sec with Olympus OMD1 MkII and 300f4 pro lens with 2 x converter. Gives 1200mm in old money film camera focal length. They look a lot closer to the naked eye. Last night 20th there was some thin high cloud so didn’t get much. https://www.flickr.com/photos/156694034@N02/50741353172/in/dateposted-family/

  4. Gamecock says:

    Looked at ’em yesterday evening with my 8X50 Minoltas. Cause ‘weather permitting’ kills this evening, and threatens tomorrow evening.

    Good news is they were higher in the sky than expected, and easily found in the SW sky. Starry Night Backyard says they will drop below the horizon at 7:22 PM. While more esoteric than an eclipse, still quite interesting.

  5. oldbrew says:

    J and S are never less than 600 million km. apart. Presumably Ganymede with an orbit period of 7.15 days is behind J at the moment, from our Earth perspective.


  6. oldbrew says:

    Tim Spence – I’ve got this theory that these conjunctions can perhaps be earthquake catalysts
    – – –
    DECEMBER 21, 2020
    Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupts: USGS

    The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted late Sunday, authorities said, warning of a possible “significant emission” of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.
    . . .
    The USGS reported a shallow, 4.4-magnitude earthquake near the volcano shortly after the eruption.


  7. tallbloke says:

  8. oldbrew says:

    It can be seen from TB’s video that the four Galilean moons take turns to become invisible from Earth as they pass in front of, or behind, Jupiter.

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