Greatest alignment of Jupiter and Saturn since 1623 visible in the Azores

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 21-12-2020 13:00:00 · 1 Comments

The phenomenon happens every 20 years, but the two planets have not been so close since 1623.

The conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, when the two planets align, happens today on 21 December and, depending on the weather conditions, can be seen from the Azores, guarantees the Astronomical Observatory of Santana - Azores (OASA).

"Not only are they the two largest planets in the solar system, but they are also the two largest planets that we can see with the naked eye", although Venus is "brighter", explains Pedro Garcia, OASA's communications technician.

Twenty years ago, in 2000, "these two planets were very close, to the point where we could put a little finger between the two, which is more or less a degree in the sky. This time, if we put a little finger, we will be able to cover both planets, which means that it is really, really close".

In what would be "the highlight of the year", OASA will not open doors due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The phenomenon happens around 5:30pm in the Azores (6:30pm in mainland Portugal) but Pedro Garcia advises to start following the phenomenon from 3:30pm (4:30pm in Lisbon).

As for its position, "the object will be seen to the southwest. After the sun sets, more or less in the same position", he adds.

"As long as people have a good view of the sea, to the southwest, that there are no mountains or houses in front, or light poles with light pollution, they will easily see this phenomenon", he guarantees.

The two planets will form a star-like point. Pedro Garcia explains that "one of the ways we realize that it is not a star is because it does not flicker, because the planets do not flicker in the sky, but a very bright point will appear in the sky".

As Christmas approaches, and on the day of the winter solstice, this alignment is of particular relevance, since there are those who compare it with the star that guided the Wise Men: The astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, in the 17th century, "suggested that what is described of the star of Bethlehem was a conjunction, but it does not seem to me to be anything like that, not least because the effect will not be similar to the description of the star of Bethlehem", he demystifies.

"Take advantage because this phenomenon will not happen again for about 60 years, in 2080, and this may be the last chance for many people", he says.

Despite being closed that day, OASA will broadcast online images of this event. But the technician reinforces: "I will be honest, these videos can be seen later, on the internet, what I advise is that, if it is good weather, go outside, use your mobile phone, and go see the phenomenon".



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Comments:

The infinite universe provides another rare spectacle for us! It is amazing, and humbling, to actually catch sight of other planets and realize that the earth is just a minuscule part of the cosmos.

By Annie from Algarve on 21-12-2020 02:32
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