In a rare celestial event, Jupiter and Saturn, two of the solar system’s largest planets will be closest to each other on Monday, December 21, the first time in nearly 400 years. The union of Jupiter and Saturn is being termed as the ‘great conjunction’ as the planets will be just 0.1 degrees apart or about one-fifth the apparent width of the Moon. Such an event will not happen again in the next 60 years, that is, until 2080.
The ‘Great Conjunction’ of our solar system’s two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, will take place on Monday, December 21, and will be visible from 6:30pm to 7:30pm in India. Jupiter and Saturn regularly pass each other, as often as once every 20 years, but what makes this year’s conjunction special is that it is the two planets will be this close to one another and also because of the time each of the planets take to orbit around the Sun. The 2020 great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest since 1623. An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky. The planets can be seen with the naked eye.
The ‘Christmas Star’, or the ‘Star of Bethlehem’, is believed to be the conjunction of the two gas giants and it was first viewed in 1623. According to the Bible, this conjunction is believed to be the star that guided the three wise men to baby Jesus. It is being suggested that the “two planets might be a replica of the legendary Star of Bethlehem”. The Star is also believed to a sign of hope for humanity. Apart from being the first time in nearly 400 years the planetary giants have been this close to one another, this is also the first time in 800 years that the alignment will occur at night.