Canberra Skywatchers prepare their telescopes for an event that last took place in the Middle Ages: the great fusion of Jupiter and Saturn.
Over the past two weeks, the gas giants have been gradually overtaking the dull Saturn (a leisurely 29.5 years) with its 11.9-year orbit around the fast-moving Jupiter Sun. The peak will be on Monday night, December 21, when the gas giants will be in the 0.1 degree range (just 665 million or more kilometers).
Although the Great Conjunction occurs every 20 years, the last time the planets came very close to Earth was in 1623 – but no one saw it. The last encounter at night was in 1226 – Europeans still believed that the sun and stars revolved around the earth.
“It’s not something you know will happen in a year or two.” ANU Astronomer / Cosmologist Dr. Brad Tucker Said. “We have been waiting for decades or centuries to see this. When we talk about the planets moving around our solar system, we rarely see it with our eyes. We see our solar system in action.”
To viewers on Earth, Dr. Tucker explained that the planets appear to be almost identical.
“It’s like a very different star or a star. There will not be two separate points of light; there will not be one point of light; it will be as long as car headlights in the distance.”
Dr. Tucker said you can see the event with your naked eye. With a pair of telescopes, Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings can be seen at a glance.
The merger will be visible at 9 p.m. Sunset 8.45; The planets appear after 15 to 20 minutes, and are visible for the next hour (cloud clearance).
To see the larger link, look to the western horizon where the sun is setting. Jupiter and Saturn look like two bright stars. The best places are from the west side of the city, with unobstructed views.
Although there will be beautiful views from Mount Ainsley and Black Mountain, Dr. Tucker advised, you do not need to be in a dark area; You can also view it from your nearest natural piece or oval or from your own home.
Dr. Tucker will try to livestream the vision Mount Stromlo Laboratory Telescope on Facebook.
Jupiter and Saturn will be visible for the next fortnight, but will grow further.
The Great Conjunction will next be visible from Earth in 2080.
“If you’ve been in it for a long time, you’ll see it twice – but it’s definitely not to be missed,” Dr. Tucker said.
This year’s Great Congregation also takes place in our Summer Psalms: the longest day of the year and the shortest night. Closer to Christmas, some have speculated that this event may be the inspiration for the Star of Bethlehem story. Dr. Tucker thinks this is not possible.
“But it’s a special‘ star ’for us near Christmas,” he said. “This is our special 2020 event. Maybe this is what we need to think about: it sends us to a special way space we want to forget after this year. ”
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