Great Conjunction aligns Jupiter and Saturn

Katie Ramirez
December 17, 2020

Planets Jupiter and Saturn are set to align as the star will visible on December 21, the winter solstice.

These "trines" or triads of great conjunctions held great sway over Kepler's thinking, leading him to suggest that the Star of Bethlehem was related to a close pairing of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 Pisces the Fishes, a sign long associated with Judaism.

Hoosiers interested in watching the "Christmas Star" line up should look into the southwest sky about 45 minutes after sunset. Binoculars should be enough to show a separation between the two, while a telescope will reveal Saturn's rings, Jupiter's belts and both planets' moons, all in the same view.

The year 2020 hasn't given us much reason to celebrate-or even look forward to for that matter-but this rare, heavenly wonder which will be taking place on December 21, is something we all should start getting excited about.

"People have these kinds of moving experiences the first time they look at Jupiter and Saturn through a telescope because they will look just like they do in pictures".

"We've just never had the opportunity to get the two of them in the same field of view at the same time so there will be lots of photos circulating after the event, showing the two of them side by side in the sky".

They will appear low in the sky, to the south-west.

"The inner planets move faster and the outer planets move slower", said Stan Seeberg of the Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers club.

Dozens of planetary conjunctions grace our skies every year, as two planets seem to pair up as seen from our Earthly vantage point.

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Every 20 years may not sound all that rare, but many Great Conjunctions end up not so great, just fair to middling.

Astronomers use the term "great conjunction" to describe the meeting of the solar system's largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

"Whether or not you see it past that time depends on your local horizon and how far down to the horizon you can see", she said.

"Was the star of Bethlehem these two planets, a supernova, a comet?"

When viewed from London, the planets will dip below the horizon by about 6.20pm GMT, so keep your eyes peeled.

If you miss the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter this month, you're next chance won't roll around again until November 2040.

Although there will be gorgeous views from Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain, Dr Tucker advised, you don't need to be in a dark area; you should be able to see it from your neighbourhood nature strip or oval, or even from your own home.

Joyce Olsen from Psychic World says the union of Jupiter and Saturn indicates "a new era of reality" in the astrological world.

On Monday, Saturn and Jupiter are set to overlap and align called "The Great Conjunction". In early December, the two planets will be about two degrees apart, and will get progressively close toward December 21.

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