Jupiter Saturn Conjunctions Factoids and Plans

Looks like the weather will cooperate so I plan to set up a small scope at the Boarding House late this afternoon. Best times to stop by and view or to view from your location will be between twilight (6:00 PM) and 8:00 PM when they set below the horizon. Both planets were lovely last night through binoculars when they were separated by about 0.3 degrees. Tonight they will be a bit closer at 0.1 degrees apart. Note that the diameter of the full Moon is about 0.5 degrees so the two planets together will be much smaller than the Moon. If you don’t have a good view of the southwest you can watch it live on line from observatories around the world.

Note that I plan on having a camera attached to the scope so everyone can view the conjunction on my laptop. i may try to connect and external monitor. Bring binoculars if you have them.

Since there will likely be several folks at the boarding house please wear your mask and practice safe social distancing.

Some factoids about the conjunction:

1 – Conjunctions occur when two or more planets, moons or stars APPEAR to be close together in the sky. They are not actually close to each other. In this case Jupiter and Saturn are actually 400 million miles apart at there “closest” approach during a conjunction.

2 – Conjunctions between the Moon and other planets and stars happen all the time depending on where you are on the Earth and your alignment between the two objects.

3 – Jupiter and Saturn conjunctions are rare since they are so far from the sun and take so long to circle the Sun. As a result of their long orbits, Jupiter and Saturn meet in the sky only once every 20 years. Jupiter orbit is 12 years and Saturn’s is 30 years.

4 – Although Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions occur every 20 years, normally they appear to come within a degree or two of each other. On average every 400 years they get less than 0.2 degrees apart (a Great Conjunction).

5 – You actually do not have to wait 400 years before the next great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn – there will be a repeat performance on March 15th, 2080.

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