Tomorrow (Monday, December 21) will bring a rare celestial event to our night sky. The two largest planets in our solar system -- Jupiter and Saturn -- will be seen close to each other. This has been termed as the "great conjunction".
In this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, the two planets will look extremely close to each other as one over another making them look like a bright speckle in the sky.
Reportedly, the last time these two planets were seen so close to each other was on July 16, 1623. "It's been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this 'great conjunction," said NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
Planetary Astronomer Dr James O'Donoghue said that Jupiter and Saturn will be separated by just 0.1 degrees. This will be their closest separation in the sky since 1623. He also shared an animated video to help us understand the closeness between the two planets.
The "great conjunction" also coincides with the shortest day (December 21) in the year as the sun reaches a point where it appears to shine farthest to the south of the equator over the Tropic of Capricorn, marking the start of the winter solstice.
When and where can you watch the 'great conjunction' in India?
The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium in Bengaluru has made arrangements to watch the 'great conjunction' on Monday between 6.30-7.30 pm, an official said.
"We have set up telescopes in our premises to watch the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on Monday evening if weather conditions permit," said the planetarium official in a statement.
However, due to the COVID-induced restrictions on people gathering in large numbers in public places, those who register online to watch the celestial event will be allowed in the planetarium in batches of limited numbers to maintain social distancing.
"Those unable to watch the event at the planetarium due to curbs on crowding, can see the conjunction of the two stars online at our website (www.taralaya.org) or Facebook and Youtube channel," said the statement.
(With IANS Inputs)