On Monday evening, the world is witnessing an extraordinary astronomical event represented by the convergence of the two largest planets in the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, to the maximum extent during a phenomenon called “the Great Conjunction” that will not be repeated before 2080.
After sunset at 1822 GMT, the two giant gaseous planets will appear in the same field of vision for observing instruments, giving the impression that they are close to the point of merging with hundreds of millions of kilometers separating them in reality.
To enjoy this scene, you must use a small observation tool, create a completely cleared sky, and aim to look south-west, in a range of land that includes regions in Western Europe (Ireland, Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal), in addition to large parts of Africa.
The apparent convergence of the two planets began months ago, and it will reach the closest distance on the day of the winter solstice (in a coincidence of time), which will give the impression that the two planets are one astronomical body.
Florent Delphi of the Paris Observatory (BSL) told AFP that the “great conjunction” is “the time that the two planets put in to reach comparable relative positions with respect to the Earth.”
Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, orbits the sun in 12 years, while Saturn’s cycle takes 29 years. About every twenty years, the two planets appear to converge when observing the sky from Earth.
“By using a small observation instrument that may simply be just a telescope, we will be able to see the two equatorial belts of Jupiter and its main moons, with Saturn’s rings in one frame,” Delphi says.
The last great conjunction dates back to the year 2000, but the difference between the two planets was not insignificant to the degree that the world will witness the two since 1623. Nor will the world witnessed an event similar to this degree of convergence between the two planets before March 15, 2080.
The scene will last for a few tens of minutes Monday.