Rare phenomenon of Jupiter & Saturn being 0.1° apart on Dec. 21 is most visible since 1226

The last time it was this close was centuries ago.

Zhangxin Zheng | December 14, 2020, 02:31 PM

Two biggest planets in our solar system — Jupiter and Saturn — will be coming very close together on Dec. 21, 2020.

Most observable "great conjunction" since year 1226

Jupiter and Saturn will only be 0.1 degree apart on that day. This phenomenon is known as the "great conjunction".

Currently, Saturn is one degree away from Jupiter.

The word "conjunction" describes the meeting of planets and other objects in space, according to Earthsky.

The 2020 conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest since 1623, Space.com reported.

It is also the most observable "great conjunction" since 1226, close to 800 years ago.

The next "great conjunction" of the two planets will be on March 15, 2080, according to Earthsky.

Being in such close proximity, some speculate that the two planets will look like a "bright star".

Adding on to that, the phenomenon is happening during the Christmas period and so it is coined as the "Christmas star".

Can we see this phenomenon in Singapore?

The answer is yes.

According to a lecturer from National University Singapore's physics department, the best time to observe the "great conjunction" is at 8pm Singapore time next Monday, the Straits Times (ST) reported.

The phenomenon will be visible 30 minutes after sunset till about 8:45pm, ST said.

You may be able to see the gap between the two planets clearer with a pair of binoculars.

More details can be seen with a telescope, including Saturn's rings.

You can use a sky map or stargazing app to locate the planets.

According to ST, the Science Centre Observatory may live-stream the phenomenon on their Facebook page if weather permits.

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Top image by Mishal Ibrahim via Unsplash