By Ilalin de Vera-Rouge
Fireworks light up the sky during New Year’s celebrations and before everyone shines, the universe’s largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, will have a rare display on December 21st.
This is because the two planets will move closer to each other in an astronomical event called “eclipse”.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said Jupiter and Saturn have been orbiting together all year round but they will appear closer together with a fifth of the full moon – the closest they have come in the last two decades.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Filipinos would have the opportunity to keep this rare event of Jupiter and Saturn close together.
He noted that the giant planets lay between the background stars with Sagittarius constellation, archer, intensity-2.0 and 0.6, respectively.
“To see the atmospheric features of these two planets, satellites and rings will need moderately sized telescopes under black and clear sky conditions,” Pegasa said.
Accordingly Jupiter and Saturn can be seen in the south-west horizon at about 36 and 34 degrees.
The greatest Jupiter-Saturn connection occurs only every 20 years during this century, according to NASA.
A report in the New York Times cites that the Jupiter-Saturn arrangement on December 21, 2020 is special because it will be closer to one after 1623.
NASA noted that the “great” connection between Jupiter and Saturn will not happen again for the next 60 years, as the two planets will probably reappear at very close distances by 2080.
This year Jupiter-Saturn is a winter solstice with a great connection.
Pagasa said that on December 21 the sun will reach the winter solstice, which means that the nights in the Philippines seem to be getting longer than the days.
Winter solstice marks the completion of another annual circuit around the Earth’s sun.
“This is the time when the sun is located at its farthest point south of the equator. It signals the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere, “Pagasa said. (Elaline de Vera-Ruiz)
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