Well 2020 isn’t completely bad after all, something every special is in store for us. So special that the last event of this grandeur was back in 1226 and the next would be only in 2080!!
If popular culture has taught us anything about the holidays, it’s that this is a season of reunions: a time when people conquer great distances and lengthy separations just to be together again. Usually, though, such stories involve cross-country trips — not the orbits of the two largest planets in our solar system. This year is different.
Jupiter and Saturn are closing in on their great conjunction on the day of the solstice, December 21, 2020. At their closest, they’ll be only 0.1 degrees apart.
Astronomers use the word conjunction to describe meetings of planets and other objects on our sky’s dome. They use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of the two biggest worlds in our solar system, mighty Jupiter and glorious ringed Saturn. The coming great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be on the day of the solstice: December 21, 2020. Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions happen every 20 years; the last one was in the year 2000. But these conjunctions aren’t all created equal. The 2020 great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226! On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will be only 0.1 degree apart. People looking at them through a telescope will likely be able to see both in one field of view, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Here’s what else scientists there are telling sky watchers:
“Keep in mind that while the two gas giants may appear close, in reality they are hundreds of millions of miles apart. This will still be quite a striking sight, but you will need to look fast as both planets will set shortly after sunset. Look above the western horizon after sunset for these bright, close planets – a clear view will help!”
Some say the pair will look like a “Christmas Star” because of the events closeness to Christmas. Will they? Or will they look like a double planet? To know for sure, we’ll have to look and see. They’ll surely be an appealing and mind-expanding sight.