Why today’s ‘Great Conjunction’ between Jupiter and Saturn is truly great

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Dec 21, 2020, 01:01 PM(IST)

Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon form triangle in the sky Photograph:( Twitter )

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Why is today’s "Great Conjunction" between Jupiter and Saturn so historic?

Why is today’s "Great Conjunction" between Jupiter and Saturn so historic?

In a non-pandemic situation, December is usually one of the most exciting times of the year - with an array of festivals and the closing of a year. However, the celebrations are low-key this year.

But fret not! The universe has found an equaliser in the "Great Conjunction" of two planets from our solar system - Jupiter and Saturn set to take place today, nearly after 400 years!

The Star of Bethlehem?

Netizens were quick to point out how today’s event is being seen by many as the embodiment of “Christmas Star” or “Star of Bethlehem”.

According to Space(dot)com, the “two planets might be a replica of the legendary Star of Bethlehem”.

Also read: 'Great conjunction': Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon to form triangle in the sky

This is not the first time scientists and watchers alike have wondered the possibility of the star’s existence, especially so close to Christmas.

A theory claims that in the year 7 BCE, Jupiter and Saturn underwent three such conjunctions - making it seem they were watching a different celestial object altogether. According to the Biblical story, the “Star of Bethlehem” guided three men to Jesus the baby.


What's a conjunction?

Saturn and Jupiter will come in conjunction due to their same right ascension or celestial longitude, or in other words - the “Great Conjunction”.

This event occurs every 20 years, but not on this scale, which is why it’s so monumental.

Also read: Jupiter, Saturn to come mighty close in rare conjunction! Details inside

According to the national Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), this is an event in four centuries but also in eight centuries. Confused? This is what NASA said - "It's been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this 'Great conjunction'".  

The degree matters!

Additionally, Saturn and Jupiter will be separated only by 0.1 degrees, or “one-fifth the apparent width of the Moon”.

This time, it’s also more symbolic, for it is coinciding with the Winter Solstice, when Sun begins it return to the Northern Hemisphere.

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