Jupiter and Saturn will be giving us a feast for the eyes tonight (December 21) as one of the brightest stars to appear in the evening sky. As one of the most prominent celestial events of the year, the two planets will be aligned to create the great conjunction. The two large planets will maintain only one-tenth degree in the distance.
Jupiter And Saturn Alignment Tonight
Tonight’s celestial event is one of the rarest as the two planets haven’t come this close in nearly four centuries. Previously, on July 16, 1623, both Jupiter and Saturn appeared at a distance of 5-minutes 10-seconds from each other. There have been only two other such instances where the planets have come this close and at a visible distance from Earth.
To note, planet conjunction or alignment like this could happen anytime or any day of the year. This would, however, depend on where the planets are in their orbits, explains Henry Throop astronomer in the Planetary Science Division at NASA. Tonight’s event makes such grandeur as it’s also the Winter Solistice.
“The date of the conjunction is determined by the positions of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Earth in their paths around the Sun, while the date of the solstice is determined by the tilt of Earth’s axis,” further explains Throop. “The solstice is the longest night of the year, so this rare coincidence will give people a great chance to go outside and see the solar system.”
Jupiter And Saturn Alignment: How And When To Watch From India?
One of the best aspects of December 21’s sky event is its visibility to the naked eye, surpassing the need for special equipment. Jupiter and Saturn’s conjunction will be visible after sunset. The only factor needed is an unobstructed view of the sky, with minimum light pollution for the best views.
To find the Jupiter and Saturn alignment, look towards the South-West direction in the sky. NASA notes that the Saturn will be slightly less bright and will appear toward the left from the point-of-view. Jupiter should appear slightly above it, and will brighter than Saturn. For a better view, one can make use of a telescope or a pair of binoculars. If lucky, you may even see the Moon orbiting around Jupiter.
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