Jupiter and Saturn great conjunction TODAY
The planets will appear closer together than they have since 1623
Today (21st December) is a day I have been looking forward to for months. It’s the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter.
And, just my luck, it’s completely cloudy here. I am hoping it will clear by sunset, but the forecast doesn’t look good.
If you’re in the same situation, don’t worry. I went out last night and saw the planets extremely close together, and they will look very close on Tuesday and for the rest of the week too. But if you have a clear sky just after sunset today, it’s a really special sight you should try not to miss.
A great conjunction is when Jupiter and Saturn come so close together in the sky that, to the naked eye, they appear as one bright planet. It happens around once every 20 years. But this year’s great conjunction is even more special than usual. The planets will appear closer together than they have since 1623.
To see them, look to the south-west AS SOON as the sun has set. You have to be quick, because they will dip below buildings and then the horizon very quickly. They should be bright enough to see from anywhere - last night I looked out my top window and saw them very clearly.
If you have some binoculars or, even better, a telescope, they will look amazing. You should be able to see Jupiter’s Galilean moons, some of Saturn’s moons and its rings. The screenshot below is what they’ll look like from the UK through big binoculars or a small telescope.
But even if you don’t have any equipment to look through, try and find them! This is a once in a lifetime astronomical event.
If you’re new to this newsletter, welcome! I’m Abby. I’m a freelance science journalist, stargazing columnist and author of The Art of Urban Astronomy. I live in England, where we have just entered a second lockdown…this time in winter. I started this newsletter to help people through the dark nights, with ideas of what to look for in the skies each week. If you live in the southern hemisphere don’t worry, I always try to make sure it applies to stargazers around the world.
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