Jupiter, Saturn coming closer on Monday

Jupiter and Saturn a few days away from their once-in-800-year conjunction captured over Lake Superior on Thursday night

Though a conjunction of these two planets happens every twenty years or so, rarely do both of them come quite so close to each other or are so clearly visible in the sky.

"You'd have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky".

Through December 25, they will become even cozier.

The best way to catch a glimpse of the rare phenomenon is to look about one hour after sunset, according to NASA. "From our vantage point, we'll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21".

Ubachukwu also said that the meeting of the two planets would appear to be a single bright star in the sky and could be witnessed with the naked eyes. This time around, they're expected to appear much closer, separated by the thickness of a dime held at arm's length.

Several conjunctions of the planets happened within 10 years of the chronological point now taken as the beginning of the Christian era and may have been responsible for the phenomenon of the bright star above Bethlehem. "What is most rare is a close conjunction that occurs in our nighttime sky", Vanderbilt University astronomy professor David Weintraub explained to AP.

"By the time skies are fully dark in Houston, for example, the conjunction will be just 9 degrees above the horizon", Hartigan said. It occurs very close to the setting sun and hence it is drowned out by the glare of the setting sun.

"To be successful in observing this conjunction, you will need to have a clear South-Western horizon and no low clouds in the distance".

They provided a history of how in 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope to the night sky, discovering the four moons of Jupiter - Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

"Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible", NASA said. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter. "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".

"Jupiter and Saturn will likely stand out from the twilight glow starting around 5:00 or 5:15". Don't worry, city-dwellers - Jupiter and Saturn are so bright, NASA estimates you'll be able to view the conjecture from most cities.

In between solstices are the equinoxes, when day and night are about equal.

In case weather conditions in your area aren't agreeable to witnessing this celestial event, several livestreams will be available.



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