Star-crossing planets: Incredibly rare ‘Christmas star’ appearing for the first time in 800 years

Star-crossing planets: Incredibly rare 'Christmas star' appearing for the first time in 800 years

Atlanta (CNN) – The two largest planets in our solar system have been converging since the Middle Ages, and this is happening at Christmas time.

So, in the last month of 2020, there are things to look forward to.

On the night of December 21, the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will appear so close in our sky that they will look like a double planet. This is a close approach Called a combination.

Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University and professor of physics and astronomy, said: How close they will be, “said Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University and professor of physics and astronomy. In a statement.

“You have to go back before the morning of March 4, 1226, to see a close correlation between these things visible in the night sky.”

If you’re a stargazer, you’ve noticed that Jupiter and Saturn have been coming together since the summer. And they are currently visible in our night sky, falling close to each other.

But between December 16 and 25, they will be more comfortable. Look for the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the western sky about one hour after sunset each evening during this time.

“On the evening of approaching December 21, they will appear as a double planet, separating the full moon by only 1/5 of the diameter,” Hertigan said. “For most telescope viewers, each planet and its many large moons will appear in the same evening view.”

Although the two planets may appear close together, they are still millions of miles apart, according to NASA.

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This scenario shows how the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction will appear in a telescope, which will be visible to the west in the evening of December 21, 2020. The image is adapted from the graphics by the open-source Gterium software Stellarium. (This work, “Jupset 1”, is produced by Stellarium Patrick Hartigan, used under GPL-2.0. , Rice University astronomer)

The skies are expected to be clear as the summit will be visible around the world, with the best perspective for them near the Mediterranean.

“The shorter a viewer to the north, the less likely they are to see the sum of the planets before they sink to a lower distance,” Hartigan said.

The planets will be bright enough to look fragrant, which may be the best time for many US viewers to follow the combination.

“As long as the skies in Houston are pitch dark, for example, the combination will be only 9 degrees above the distance,” Hartigan said. “It will be manageable to see if the weather is supportive and you have a non-obstructive view to the southwest.”

If you are in New York or London, or with those distances, try to find the combination immediately after sunset. Waiting an hour after sunset will only bring the planets closer together, making it more difficult to find them.

Hartigan said the best conditions to observe this astronomical event would be a clear southwest day and no less clouds in the distance, Hartigan said. Telescopes or binoculars can help you distinguish planets. He said that a telescope would enable him to see the rings of Saturn and the bright moon of both the planets.

If you remember this combination and want to see the planets with the same proximity, just high in the sky, it won’t be until March 15, 2080 – and then not after 2400.

0 and 3000 BC, according to Hertigan. Or in the Middle Ages, only seven coincidences were or would be closer – and two of them were very close to the sun, visible without binoculars, according to Hertigan. So, yes, this is a very rare occurrence.

CN CNN-Wire & 20 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warnermedia company. all rights reserved.

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