Star-crossed planets: Incredible rare ‘Christmas star’ to appear for the first time in 800 years

Star-crossed planets: Incredible rare 'Christmas star' to appear for the first time in 800 years

Atlanta (CNN) – The two largest planets in our solar system are getting closer than they did in the Middle Ages, and it’s time for Christmas.

So, there are some things to look forward to in the final months of 2020.

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

Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer and professor of physics at Rice University, said: “Arrangements between these two planets are very rare, occurring every 20 years or so, but these connections are exceptionally rare because of how close the planets are to each other. , ”Said Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer and professor of physics at Rice University. In a statement.

“You have to go back at 4 o’clock at night, before early morning on 1226, to see the close alignment between these bejets appearing in the night sky.”

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

But between December 16 and 25, they will become more comfortable. Look for the Jupiter-Saturn combination in the western sky about an hour after sunset every evening at this time.

“On the evening of the approaching approach on December 21 they will look like a double planet, separated by 1/5 the diameter of the full moon,” Hertig said. “For most telescope viewers, each planet and its many large moons will appear in the same field view that evening.”

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The two planets may appear closer together, but according to NASA, they are still millions of miles away.

A view of how the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction will appear in a telescope displayed on the western horizon on December 21, 2020 at 6 p.m. This image has been adapted from graphics by the open-source planetarium software Stellarium. (This work, “jupsat1”, is adapted from Stellarium by Patrick Hartigan, used under GPL-2.0, and courtesy of Patrick Hartigan, provided under CC BY 4.0) (Photo: Patrick Hartigan, Rice University astronomer)

There is hope for a clear sky because with the best perspective for people close to the equator, the combination will appear worldwide.

“The farther north a viewer is, the sooner the planets will get a glimpse of the connection before sinking below the horizon,” Hartigan said.

The planets will be bright enough to see in twilight, which many U.S. This may be the best time for viewers to observe the connection.

“The sky in Houston is completely dark, for example, the connection will be only 9 degrees above the horizon,” Hertigan said. “If the weather cooperates and you have an unobstructed view of the southwest, it will be manageable to see.”

If you’re in New York or London, or it’s along latitude, try to find a combination immediately after sunset. Waiting an hour after sunset will keep the planets closer to the horizon, making them more difficult to see.

Hartigan said the best conditions for seeing this astronomical event would be a clear south-west horizon and no low clouds in the distance. Binoculars or binoculars can help you distinguish planets. The telescope will be able to see Saturn’s rings and the bright moon of both planets, he said.

If you lose this connection and want to see planets in the same vicinity, just high in the sky, it won’t happen until March 15, 2080 – and then not after 2400.

Between And 000,000 CE or the Common Era, only seven connections were or would be closer than this – and two of them were closer to the Sun, which could not be seen without a telescope, according to Hertigan. So, yes, this is an incredibly rare phenomenon.

CNN-Wire ™ and © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warnermedia company. All rights reserved to us.

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