Jupiter and Saturn will appear as a double planet on the winter solstice

Winter solstice will bring another unique astronomical phenomenon with Jupiter and Saturn appearing closer together like a double planet in Earth’s night sky.

While such alignment is rare and occurs every 20 years or so, the December 21, 2020 event is exceptionally rare as the planets will appear closer since the middle ages.

According to Scitech daily, Astronomer Patrick Hartigan from Rice University said, “Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another. You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”

A VIEW SHOWING HOW THE JUPITER-SATURN CONJUNCTION WILL APPEAR IN A TELESCOPE POINTED TOWARD THE WESTERN HORIZON AT 6 P.M. CST, DECEMBER 21, 2020. THE IMAGE IS ADAPTED FROM GRAPHICS BY OPEN-SOURCE PLANETARIUM SOFTWARE STELLARIUM. Image: THIS WORK, “JUPSAT1,” IS ADAPTED FROM STELLARIUM BY PATRICK HARTIGAN, USED UNDER GPL-2.0, AND PROVIDED UNDER CC BY 4.0 COURTESY OF PATRICK HARTIGAN

From December 16-25, the planets will be separated by less than our moon’s diameter. Weather permitting, we can watch this close alignment anywhere from Earth for about an hour after sunset, but the equator will offer the best views.

Hartigan said that the next close alignment of these planets will not happen until March 15, 2080.

For amateur astronomers, the 2020 event is an excellent opportunity to observe these celestial objects.

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Source: SciTechDaily

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