What to know about tonight’s Great Conjunction

The Great Conjunction from click2pins thanks to Dan Grinstead
The Great Conjunction from click2pins thanks to Dan Grinstead

Welcome to winter as the solstice occurred at 4:02 a.m. Monday and just in time for the world to witness the Great Conjunction this evening of Saturn and Jupiter! This “planet passage” is being called The Christmas Star because it happens this week.

If you don’t know what’s going on, imagine our two largest planets in a horse race as they orbit the sun, but Jupiter will win simply because it’s 450million miles closer to the sun than Saturn. Tonight, they will appear to be neck and neck!

It's a planetary horse race! copyright Charles Mann (Charles Mann)

From our perspective, they’ll be so close you can stick out your arm and cover both of the planets with your pinky finger--just 1/10th of a degree apart. They’ve been getting close for a month and Click2Pins has been full of sensational stargazing. Here’s a Pin from last night thanks to AndrewG:

AndrewG caught this pic of Saturn and Jupiter below and even a couple of Jupiter's moons with a telescope and an Iphone

Planets pass each other all the time as they orbit the sun, so conjunctions themselves aren’t that rare, but this one is special because of the closeness and the whole world will be able to view it! The last time this happened was July 1623, but the sun hampered actually seeing it. Before then, you have to go back to March 1226! The next one, if you’re feeling healthy, is March 15, 2080!

Where and when to look

With a clear evening forecast and temperatures right around 60°, we are in for a treat. When it gets dark, simply look southwest, below the moon, and you’ll see the two planets appear almost as one. They “set” at 8:30 p.m. so make sure to look before then. If you use binoculars or a telescope you’ll even be able to pick out Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings!

Enjoy and feel free to send any great pics my way via email or post on Click2Pins!

Frank


About the Author: