This was the spectacular astronomical phenomenon “Star of Bethlehem” that will not be repeated until 2080It could be observed this Monday night in its maximum splendour for approximately one hour. The details of this event.
Jupiter and Saturn, the two largest planets in the solar system, came together on Monday, December 21, causing an astronomical phenomenon known as the “Christmas Star” or “Star of Bethlehem” and that will not occur again under these conditions until 2080.
“The planets will appear so close that an outstretched little finger will easily cover both planets in the sky. They will be easy to see with the naked eye looking to the west just after sunset and will be visible for about an hour ”, had advanced Infobae Constantino Baikouzis, astronomical researcher and director of the Astronomical Park Program of La Matanza, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
How does it happen? According to the expert, after sunset the two gas giants appear in the same field of vision of an observation instrument, giving the impression that they are touching, although in reality they are separated by hundreds of millions of kilometres.
Jupiter, the largest, takes 12 years to go around the Sun, Saturn, 29. And every two decades or so, the two planets seem to get closer when we observe the celestial sphere from Earth.
The Great Conjunction corresponds “to the time it takes for the two planets to find similar relative positions with respect to the Earth,” Florent Deleflie, from the Paris Observatory, told AFP.
Experts explain that although these two planets meet in this position every 20 years, this year’s meeting is very particular since almost 400 years have passed since both were so close to each other, and about 800 years since that the encounter takes place at night, which made it possible for it to be visible almost everywhere in the world, NASA noted. But he clarified that this “closeness” is a matter of perspective since in reality the two planets are separated by hundreds of millions of kilometres.
“Technically, today was the closest day between the two planets. However, if we go out to look tomorrow, we will be able to appreciate it in the same way as today, perhaps 10% attenuated. Today the maximum peak is finished. As of ten o’clock at night (Argentine time) the phenomenon began to hide behind the horizon ”, stated in dialogue with Infobae Mariano Ribas, coordinator of the Scientific Dissemination Area of the Planetarium of Buenos Aires, Galileo Galilei.
In a perspective effect, the two giants will appear to be stuck together, “with a distance of only six arc-minutes between them, which corresponds to about a fifth of the angular diameter of the Moon,” Deleflie points out.
“With a small observation instrument, even with simple binoculars, we will be able to see in the same field the equatorial belts of Jupiter and its main satellites, as well as the rings of Saturn”, explains the astronomer.
At first glance, the approach will give the feeling that there is a double planet, since “Jupiter and Saturn are two very luminous stars,” he continues.
This exceptional show can be observed for several dozen minutes, on a night in which in several countries there are restrictions such as the curfew due to the pandemic.
The last Great Conjunction occurred in 2000, but to find a distance as small as the one that will occur on Monday, we must go back to 1623. And a similar phenomenon will not happen again until March 15, 2080.
With AFP information
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