NEW YORK – The evening sky over the Northern Hemisphere treats stargazers as a once-in-a-lifetime illusion on Monday, as the two largest planets in the solar system merge into a celestial alignment that astrologers call the “Great Conjunction”.
The shortest day of the year, coinciding with the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, coinciding with the winter solstice of Monday, resulted in a rare spectacle.
For those able to observe the alignment in clear skies, the two frozen gas shells appeared closer and more vibrant – almost as a point of light – at any time in 800 years.
Jupiter – paired and larger – is slowly near Saturn in the sky for weeks as the two planets move around the Sun, each in its own lane of a giant celestial racetrack, Henry Thopp, an astronomer at the National Aeronautics and Astronomers he said. Headquarters of the Space Administration in Washington.
“From our vantage point, we will be able to see Jupiter on the inside lane, which will move closer to Saturn throughout the month and eventually overtake it on December 21,” Throop said in a statement last week.
At the point of convergence, Jupiter and Saturn appear as just a tenth of a degree, roughly equal to the thickness of the dime placed at arm’s length. In fact, according to NASA, the planets persisted over millions of miles.
A combination of two planets occurs once every 20 years. But the last time Jupiter and Saturn came close together in the sky, as in Monday 1623, was an alignment that occurred during daylight and thus was not visible from most places on Earth.
The last visible assemblage occurred long before the telescope was invented, in 1226, halfway to the construction of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics
The high brightness of the two planets, as they almost merge into the sky, has invited speculation about whether they formed the “Christmas Star”, which is described in the New Testament as the three wise men who carried the baby Jesus. Be directed to.
But Astronomer Billy Teets, acting director of the Dyer Observatory of Vanderbilt University in Brentwood, Tennessee, said that of the many possible explanations for the Biblical phenomenon, there is only one great compromise.
“I think WKRN-TV in Nashville said in a recent interview that Teats had a lot of debate about what might happen.”
Astronomers suggested that the best way to see Monday’s coincidence was to look southwest in an open area about an hour after sunset.
Jonathan Bigdowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics, told Reuters via email, “Big telescopes don’t help that, the slight telescope is right, and even eyeballs are fine together.”
The next great disaster between the two planets – though not nearly simultaneously – arrives in November 2040.
A closer alignment similar to Monday would occur in March 2080, McDowell said, following the following close combination 337 years later, in August 2417.