The two bright planets will be in closest conjunction in the evening sky after 367 years
Skywatchers in the city are gearing up to watch a rare spectacle in the evening sky on December 21, when two bright planets — Jupiter and Saturn — come in close conjunction after 367 years, the first such event since 1623 and nearly 800 years after the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night. The planets will be separated by just 0.1degrees.
“Look up at the sky after sunset and the brightest star you will see is Jupiter. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above,” says Adithya DV, an astro photographer from Chennai who hopes to click the conjunction. He has previously photographed comets, globular star clusters, the Milky Way galaxy and other celestial conjunctions from the rooftop of his home in T Nagar. “I also managed to click a solar eclipse in Kotagiri, and lunar eclipse and meteor showers in the U.S.,” he adds.
The astronomical extravaganza of Jupiter catching up with Saturn will be easily visible, and one can catch it from the balcony or terrace.“If you have binoculars or a small telescope, you can also see Jupiter’s four large moons and may be Saturn’s rings. I hope the sky is clear. I want to find an elevated spot, and an interesting foreground for the photograph,” he says.
While Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions happen every 20 years, the 2020 great conjunction on December 21 will be the closest since 1623, and the closest observable since 1226. “This extra-close conjunction won’t be matched again until 2080,” says Adithya.