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What is Jupiter Saturn Conjunction? Know all about the celestial event and how to watch here

Tulika Tandon

Why in News?

The Northern hemisphere marks the commencement of winters today that is on December 21, 2020. Today there would be Winter Solstice Great Conjunction that would be visible to the naked eye. 

About the event:

  1. The great conjunction is caused due to the overlapping of biggest planets in the solar system, Saturn and Jupiter, in the night sky. 
  2. The planets would be visible as a “double planet,” due to their overlapping in the skies. 
  3. This event was not been easily visible since the Middle Ages and it has been almost 800 years this event took place. 
  4. The celestial phenomenon would be witnessed from anywhere on earth
  5. Google in collaboration with NASA, on December 21, 2020, showcased the winter solstice great conjunction in the Northern Hemisphere using a doodle.

About the Google Doodle today:

Google created a doodle for this today and wrote, “Based on their orbits, from our vantage point on Earth, Jupiter and Saturn will cross within .1 degrees of each other (a fraction of the width of the full moon), a once-in-a-lifetime rendezvous recreated in the Doodle artwork. But looks can be deceiving, as the two gas giants will actually remain a vast distance of approximately 450 million miles apart!”

In the animated doodle, the Great Conjunction has been visualized as a cartoon charactered  Saturn and Jupiter giving a quick high five to each other, with “snow-capped” winter solstice with people on Earth watching the other two planets.

History:

The last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close to be viewed from Earth was 400 hundred years ago, that is on July 16, 1623. Jupiter is currently 886,440 km from Earth and Saturn is located 733,205 km beyond Jupiter too. The conjunction is visible as the planets happen to lie in the same direction.

What is Winter Solstice?

  1. Solstice in Latin means the 'stalled sun'. Summer and Winter Solstices are astronomical events which mark the movement of the Sun and the changes in the duration of day and night eventually due to it. Winter Solstice specifically has begun from today. 
  2. At this time on earth, the sun shifts to the Tropic of Capricorn from Tropic of Cancer which is due to the earth's inclination at 23.5 degrees. 
  3. This means that the countries located in the Northern hemisphere would receive the least light/ direct rays from the sun. 
  4. This phenomenon causes the movement of the Sun from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa bringing in seasonal changes in the year. 

How to view the event?

  • You would need to find a spot with a clear view of the sky.
  • Let one hour pass after the sunset
  • You can find Jupiter, like a bright star, easily visible in the southwestern sky. 
  • Saturn will be slightly less visible and can be seen a little above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21. This is when Jupiter would be overtaking it to reverse their positions in the sky.
  • The planets would be visible as bigger than the stars spot in the sky with an unaided eye. 

The event is happening after 400 years, that is no man available on Earth has previously viewed it. It surely is not a sight to miss. 


GK Quiz on current and static events: 21st December 2020

FAQ

Does it rain diamonds on Jupiter?

Jupiter and Saturn are both gaseous planets and have a great amount of carbon on them. Thus it is calculated by the scientists that huge diamonds can rain on these.

Is Jupiter brighter than Saturn?

Jupiter is brighter than Saturn as it is closer to the Sun and can reflect it's light brighter. Saturn though is as bright as another star in the sky

Can we see the Great Conjunction?

Yes, one can see the great conjunction in the skies on December 21, 2020. Saturn will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter after the sunset in the southern skies

What happens when Jupiter and Saturn align?

The great Jupiter Saturn conjunction is in view when the planets align. It is also called the Great Conjunction.

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