(Nextstar) – December 21 is the shortest day of 2020, and if you plan to scan the night sky for a celestial event never seen before since Genghis Khan was alive, that’s good news.
Jupiter and Saturn, the largest planets in the solar system, can now be seen crawling close into the night sky every evening this week. At winter solstice, those planets look like a bright twin in the night sky.
The two planets are so close together that they appear to touch each other, about one-fifth the diameter of a moon. When celestial bodies align, astronomers call it a fusion, but because it contains two of the largest gas giants in our solar system, it is technically a “Excellent connection. “As the event draws to a close this holiday week, many are beginning to call the organization the” Christmas Star. “
The planets are already visible on the southwest horizon after sunset, and dedicated visitors can be seen aligning them next week. Even if the two planets are known to be together by next Monday, they will actually be More than four times The distance between the earth and the sun.
“Look for them less in the southwest an hour after sunset,” NASA officials said in a statement. On December 21st, the two giant planets will appear except for one-tenth of a degree – it’s about the thickness of a silver coin held at arm’s length! This means that both planets and their moons are visible at a glance through telescopes or a small telescope. In fact, Saturn appears closer to Jupiter than some of Jupiter’s moons. ”
As you can see in the graphic below, it would be helpful to look down from the moon to the horizon and then start scanning to the right to find the planets. If you still have trouble, you can use the many available smartphone applications to identify stars and planets in the night sky.
Jupiter and Saturn have appeared since March 4, 1226 on the 21st. There was a close fusion of the planets about 400 years ago, but that phenomenon suggests that many of us on Earth are unaware Space.com.
Large connections occur on average every 19.6 years. After this month’s event, NASA says you should be there until 2080 to catch the next big link in a similar proximity.