communications relay login

The ‘Christmas Star’: once-in-lifetime conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn

Get your telescopes and binoculars out to see a truly rare, unique sight in the heavens

By Pedigo Mon 21 Dec, 2020 1:51 PM
Jupiter and Saturn will converge in the sky Monday night (December 21st), appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo was there to see it in the 17th century.

Astronomers say so-called conjunctions between the two largest planets in our solar system aren’t particularly rare. Jupiter passes its neighbor Saturn in their respective laps around the sun every 20 years.

But the one coming up is rare as Jupiter and Saturn will be just one-tenth of a degree apart from our perspective. They should be easily visible around the world a little after sunset as long as the weather doesn’t interfere.

Combine it with the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest night of the year and this holiday spectacle promises to be a very unique event.

It will be the closest Jupiter-Saturn pairing since July 1623, when the two planets appeared a little nearer. This conjunction was almost impossible to see, however, because of its closeness to the sun.

Considerably closer and in plain view was the March 1226 conjunction of the two planets when Genghis Khan was still conquering Asia. Monday’s conjunction will be the closest pairing that's visible since then.

To see it, be ready shortly after sunset Monday, looking to the southwest fairly low on the horizon. Saturn will be the smaller, fainter blob at Jupiter’s upper right. Binoculars will be needed to separate the two planets.

Despite appearances, Jupiter and Saturn will actually be more than 450 million miles (730 million kilometers) apart. Earth, meanwhile, will be 550 million miles (890 million kilometers) from Jupiter.

A telescope will not only capture Jupiter and Saturn in the same field of view, but even some of their brightest moons.

The next super-close conjunction event? March 15, 2080.


Have you seen it yet? Are you looking at it tonight? Let us know in the comments below.


WRITTEN BY Pedigo
EDITED BY Silek
10 Comments
Mon 21 Dec, 2020 3:46 PM
Amazing article Pedigo! I'm gonna see if I can borrow a telescope and get a good look at the conjunction. Lets hope the weather doesn't interfere!
Mentioned User Morris Can you arrange good weather in advance please? Wink
Mon 21 Dec, 2020 5:13 PM
That's a really great article there Pedigo. I always find stuff related to space fascinating and I've been following this one for a bit.
Mon 21 Dec, 2020 6:37 PM
Amazing article Pedigo! I'm gonna see if I can borrow a telescope and get a good look at the conjunction. Lets hope the weather doesn't interfere!
Mentioned User Morris Can you arrange good weather in advance please? Wink
It's not looking good for you, Solace! Sorry. Better luck in 2080! Jupiter and Saturn will still be hanging out around each other for a little bit, so take a look on the first clear evening that you get.

Cheers!
Tue 22 Dec, 2020 12:09 AM
Not the greatest photo of the event as it was with a phone looking into a telescope but you can make out Saturn, Jupiter, and four of Jupiter’s moons... maybe is 400 years, I’ll get a better camera/telescope setup.

Name:  C0AE71D5-1EBD-4D8C-8B6B-1DD8F7DD495E.jpeg
Views: 79
Size:  345.9 KB
Tue 22 Dec, 2020 5:15 PM
Not the greatest photo of the event as it was with a phone looking into a telescope but you can make out Saturn, Jupiter, and four of Jupiter’s moons... maybe is 400 years, I’ll get a better camera/telescope setup.
That turned out way better than my pic last night of it, but I was rushing to take it as I was fixing supper for my family at the time. Usually my luck with these events can be summed up like this....

Name:  FB_IMG_1608609530871.jpg
Views: 72
Size:  24.2 KB
Tue 22 Dec, 2020 5:46 PM
As is usually the case here it has been lovely sunny weather during the days and a crap cloudy mess every single night!

In fact tonight it is actually clear but there's one single bank of cloud covering both planets!!!

Argh!!!!
Tue 22 Dec, 2020 7:22 PM
That turned out way better than my pic last night of it, but I was rushing to take it as I was fixing supper for my family at the time. Usually my luck with these events can be summed up like this....

Attachment 14304
Just in time for a Montana white Christmas here today. Le joy. :/

EDIT: And then it all about melted. Atleast it's still cloudy. :/
Tue 22 Dec, 2020 7:38 PM
Not my images. Credit given when known.

Name:  131707929_3829102233768539_3730757117139470350_n.jpg
Views: 71
Size:  7.6 KB
Name:  131820383_3829102317101864_5880648222020464279_n.jpg
Views: 65
Size:  9.8 KB
Name:  131930591_3829102127101883_8265502437845156031_n.jpg
Views: 65
Size:  7.9 KB
Name:  131935531_3829102200435209_1372127385468117732_o.jpg
Views: 65
Size:  16.4 KB
Name:  131938561_3829102277101868_152941966710673817_n.jpg
Views: 63
Size:  30.2 KB
Thu 24 Dec, 2020 10:32 AM
That is an truly interesting and fascinating article. I love it
Fri 25 Dec, 2020 12:47 AM
I definitely need to be work on my astrophotography game.