The ‘Great Conjuncture’ Tonight – Dec. 21, 2020

by on December 21, 2020 · 1 comment

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This evening, on the first day of astronomical winter, you may be able to see a rare phenomenon witnessed when the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei was alive: Jupiter and Saturn will appear so close to one another in the night sky, the gassy behemoths will look like one star: the Christmas star.

Called the great conjunction, the seemingly snuggled-up planets will appear just a tenth of a degree apart, or about one-fifth the diameter of a full moon. While the great conjunction occurs every 20 years, the planets haven’t been this close to each other since July 16, 1623, or 397 years ago, according to timeanddate.com. And the last time the planets were this close to each other at night, when the sun’s glare didn’t make it impossible to see, was in 1223 — nearly 800 years ago!

How can you catch the great conjunction? Shortly after sunset, in the Northern Hemisphere, look into the southwestern sky and you should see the duo shining brightly. Hold your pinkie finger at arm’s length once you spot the spot and that should be enough to block out Jupiter and Saturn, which are 11 and nine times the diameter of Earth, respectively. The great conjunction should also be visible from the Southern Hemisphere, just in the western sky. Jupiter, being the solar system’s largest planet, will be the brighter of the two.  LiveScience

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie December 22, 2020 at 9:59 am

Patty and I did look at the Great Conjuncture and I’m fairly certain that with my binoculars I could make out Saturn’s rings!

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