Sky gazers across the world are in for a massive treat today!
In an extremely rare celestial event, the two largest planets in the Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn will be seen very close to each other on 21st December 2020 and appearing as a single bright star in the sky.
The two planets will be so close that the little finger at arm’s length can cover both the planets. It has been close to 400 years since the two planets have been this close to each other.
“If two celestial bodies visually appear close to each other from Earth, it is called a conjunction. And such conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter is at times called a great conjunction,” Director of M P Birla Planetarium in Kolkata, Debi Prasad Duari, said in a statement.
This event is also being called the Christmas Star because it is occurring just in time for Christmas.
“You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” said Henry Throop, astronomer in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “From our vantage point, we’ll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21.”
How do you look out for the planets?
According to NASA, all you have to do is find a place where you have a clear view of the sky. An hour after sunset, you must look to the southwestern sky. While Jupiter will appear very bright, Saturn will be 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. This event can be witness with your naked eye. However, if you have your binoculars or a telescope, you will also be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.
Hope you are as excited as we are to witness this once-in-a-lifetime-event!