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On Monday, the “Christmas Star” appeared in the sky for the first time in 800 years: How to see a wonderful connection if the weather permits

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A phenomenon we haven’t seen in nearly 800 years that will light up the sky next week.

NASA reported that two of the largest planets in the solar system will meet together in a “wonderful conjunction” just in time for Christmas. It is also the same day as the winter solstice.

“What has become widely known as the” Christmas star “is a particularly vibrant planetary conjunction that can be easily seen in the evening sky over the next two weeks as Jupiter and Saturn meet together, culminating in the night of December 21, NASA said on its website. .

On Monday, Jupiter and Saturn will become closer and closer to each other, according to Space.com. Rarely do the two planets come together as do other bright planets.

Jim Todd, Director of Space Science Education at OMSI, He said those in the Portland area You’ll want to go out right after sunset at 4:30 PM, when Jupiter and Saturn are low in the sky. Todd said that the planets will fall below the horizon quickly, so it is essential to see the southwest horizon well, and people will need to look at the sky in time to capture it.

The Weather in Portland Not looking favorable with a 70-80% chance of precipitation and a mostly cloudy forecast on Monday.

For those who want to see the phenomenon for themselves, NASA says, here’s what to do:

  • Find a place with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or garden. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
  • An hour after sunset, look at the southwestern sky. Jupiter will appear like a bright star and can be seen easily. Saturn will be slightly faint and appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter is overtaken by Jupiter and reverses its positions in the sky.
  • The planets can be seen with the naked eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see the four large moons of Jupiter orbiting the giant planet.
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The two planets’ conjunctions occur roughly every 20 years, but they are not always the same. Monday will be the closest conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn since July 1623, when the two planets appeared a little closer. This conjunction was nearly impossible to see, due to its proximity to the sun.

The conjunction of the two planets in March 1226 was much closer and clear – when Genghis Khan was invading Asia. Monday’s coupling will be the closest visible coupling since then.

Saturn will be the smallest and fainest point in the upper right of the brighter Jupiter. Despite appearances, Jupiter and Saturn will be more than 450 million miles (730 million km) away. Meanwhile, Earth will be 550 million miles (890 million km) from Jupiter.

“On the 21st, they will appear so close that a pinky finger at arm’s length will easily cover both planets in the sky,” NASA said. “It will be easy to see the planets with the naked eye by looking toward the southwest immediately after sunset.”

According to NASA, the best way to get a look at this rare phenomenon is to look about an hour after sunset. The planets can be seen with the naked eye.

“Jupiter will look like a bright star and can be seen easily,” NASA said. “Saturn will be slightly fainter and appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter is past it and they will reflect their positions in the sky.”

The next time they get close to each other in our skies it won’t be for another 60 years, so this will be a once in a lifetime event for a lot of people. In fact, the last time they approached this was of the year 1623, But it was really difficult, if not impossible, to see them at that time because they looked so much closer to the sun and set shortly thereafter. Go back another 400 years 1226 And this was the last time we had a good view of this kind of pairing.

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What advice would you give people who want to see a great pairing?

If you have binoculars, you will easily be able to spot both planets. Even in a small telescope, you will see both planets at the same time in the same field of view, which is something that no one has ever heard of. This is what makes this pairing so rare.

Weather permitting Dyer Observatory, From one of the observatory telescopes there will be a direct coupling current.

Tossed at the northern hemisphere winter solstice, the longest night of the year – and the southern hemisphere summer solstice – this spectacle just in time for Christmas is one of the greatest celebrations.

“What is most rare is the close coupling that occurs in our night skies,” said David Weintraub of Vanderbilt University, a professor of astronomy. “I think it’s fair to say that such an event may only happen once in a person’s life, and I think the phrase” once in my life “is a very good test of whether something deserves to be classified as rare or special.

The next super-pairing between them: March 15, 2080.

– Kansas City Star, Associated Press, The Conversation

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