The Great Conjunction: Saturn and Jupiter align on Dec 21st

Posted By on December 20, 2020

For those who enjoy astronomy, space exploration or just looking at the night sky, an event know as Saturn and Jupiter’s Great Conjunction is happening on December 21st (although look in the southern sky shortly after sunset  any night this month).

A “conjunction” is an event that happens every 20 years for these two planets as they align when orbiting around the sun at different speeds. Their orbits are different due to their mass and their distance from the sun … as Jupiter takes about 12 years and Saturn takes about 30 years. That means every 20 years they come into “conjunction.” What makes this year unique or “great,” is that normally the orbits pass a little further apart as they pass each other (still a long distance apart), but this year they align much closer … which happens ever 400 years. That last time was when the famed Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was studying the sky with his early telescope. So get out your cameras, telescopes or binoculars and check it out … although it is easy to see with your naked eye.

Saturn and Jupiter Conjunction
Click to enlarge then look for tiny Saturn & larger Jupiter to lower right
(right-click and save-as for the full size NASA photo with the Washington Monument)


For some great information on this, here is the recorded NASA Science Live broadcast (recorded Dec 17, 2020).

Comments

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