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Jupiter and Saturn, the last astronomical show of the year

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 22 dic 2020 6:12 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 22 dic 2020 6:13 ]
After the spectacular total solar eclipse that was visible on December 14 from various locations in the Biobío and La Araucanía regions, in Southern Chile, this peculiar year 2020 still has one more astronomical show to offer.
The planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was visible in all its magnitude at sunset on Monday, December 21, 2020. There had not been such a conjunction since July 16, 1623.

Astronomer, writer and winner of the 
1999 National Prize for Exact Sciences José Maza called everyone to observe the phenomenon, which described as "the conjunction of our lives".

Universidad de Chile's astronomy professor Patricio Rojo explained that with a telescope and binoculars there even could be visible the moons of Jupiter.
It's the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, the largest planets in the Solar System, which was visible in all its magnitude from practically the entire world on Monday, December 21, 2020. In Chile, the phenomenon was visible from the sunset and to the West. It was possible to observe it with the naked eye, although with a telescope or binoculars it was seen much better, since those instruments allowed to contemplate even some of the 79 moons of Jupiter.

400 years had passed since both planets were so close and it had been 800 years since the phenomenon had taken place at night, so it was visible in almost all the world.

“An astronomical conjunction happens when two objects appear to get very close on the celestial sphere. Actually, they do not approach, but are aligned. Both are in the same direction if you look at them”, astronomy professor at the University of Chile Patricio Rojo explained.

“This week, we have a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. These planets seem to get very close, but in reality each one is in their own orbit. Therefore, the distance between them is still very large, but from Earth they seem to be quite close to one another. This maximum approach they have today had not been seen since the seventeenth century, when Galileo could have watched it with his telescopes, but it was a very difficult observation because it was very close to the Sun and there are no records of Galileo having tried it”, Rojo said.
"The conjunction of our lives"
The well-known astronomer José Maza, winner of the 1999 National Prize for Exact Sciences and who is also the author of popular books on astronomy, made a call through a video on YouTube for people to observe the conjunction, which could be contemplated with the naked eye and without having to use any type of protection, for it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Don't forget to look at sunset on December 21st at Jupiter and Saturn, which are going to be very, very close to one another, in conjunction. That happens every 20 or so years, because Saturn takes 30 years to go around (the Sun), Jupiter takes 12, and every 20 years Jupiter passes Saturn again. So this conjunction, but not so good, is going to be repeated in 20 more years," Maza explained.
“But a (conjunction) as good as this, you have to go back up to 800 years to find one of this caliber. So this is the conjunction of our lives. At least I think it will be the last for me. So, look at December 21, as the Sun sets , looking towards the West,” recommended the academic on the online video platform.

Taking advantage of the good weather and the possibility of contemplating the phenomenon in a completely safe and free way, the astronomers urged the public to go out into the open to contemplate this probably unique spectacle in our lives.
"Those who have been watching the sky in recent days have seen with the naked eye two stars that are approaching, which are among the Moon and the horizon, there are two stars that are closer every day. If you look with a telescope, with some kind of binoculars, you could even see the moons of Jupiter. Saturn's rings are more difficult (to see). Those require a higher magnification telescope. But the moons of Jupiter can be seen, almost with a simple augmentation. Either with a good camera or with a good zoom,” Patricio Rojo said.
The conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn coincided with the beginning of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere and with the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The last time an alignment of such magnitude occurred between the two planets was on July 16, 1623, and it will not be observed again until March 15, 2080, according to astronomers’ calculations.