Gear up; Winter is here and the longest night has arrived with the biggest cosmic surprise, which is going to happen tonight, and that too after almost 800 years!
Two of the biggest planets of the solar system – Jupiter and Saturn will form ‘The Great Conjuction’ in the sky tonight. December 21, also marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the longest night of 2020.
What is The Great Conjunction?
“The Great Conjunction” signifies the rarity of the union because unlike conjunctions with the other bright planets, these two do not get close as often due to the distance they have. Jupiter and Saturn of all planets can be viewed through naked eye and during this show, both the planets will appear very close to one another as they were overlapping to create a double planet illusion. The last time it happened in the middle ages almost 800 year ago, making this night even more special.
The conjunction of the two planets occurs every 19.6 years, but this would be the first time since 1226 that the pair aligns at night and Earthlings will be able to witness it. The distance between the planets will remain same but the angle of viewing it from Earth will be aligned. From the Earth, the two planets will be viewed only 0.1 degrees apart!
How can I see Saturn and Jupiter in the night sky?
In Karachi you can witness it in the night sky according to the clarity the sky possesses. According to the website “timeanddate,” the planets visibility chart shows Jupiter and Saturn with ‘Fairly good visibility and average visibility’ respectively.
Tonight’s sky chart shows the sight of Jupiter and Saturn in Karachi will begin around 8:03pm and will be blinking together with the stars all-night long!
Saturn will appear to be a smaller fainter blob at Jupiter’s upper right. Binoculars will be needed to separate the two planets. Despite appearing super close tonight, both the gas giants will actually be more than 450 million miles (730 million km) apart. Earth, meanwhile, will be 550 million miles (890 million km) from Jupiter. A telescope will not only be able to capture Jupiter and Saturn in the same field of view, but even some of their brightest moons, including Callisto, Io and Europa!
So are you ready to witness the cosmic phenomenon? The next super-close pairing will be expected in March 15, 2080. If not tonight, then you would be waiting for a LONG time!