Jupiter and Saturn to give a rare treat in the sky this evening
First Published Dec 21, 2020, 8:35 AM IST
On the evening of closest approach on December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will look like a double planet, separated by only 1/5th the diameter of the full moon. The celestial treat will be visible across the planet, though the best viewing conditions will be near the equator.
Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer together in the night sky. On the evening of closest approach on December 21, they will look like a double planet, separated by only 1/5th the diameter of the full moon.
The celestial treat will be visible across the planet, though the best viewing conditions will be near the equator.
Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan said, "Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another."
"You would have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky."
The next time Jupiter and Saturn will be this close together will be around March 15, 2080.
For those who would like to see this phenomenon for themselves, here's what NASA suggests you should do:
* Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
* An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
* The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.
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