Jupiter and Saturn, the two largest planets in the Solar System, fell within the range of planetary kisses in the evening sky today, and this will not happen again until 2080.
As astronomers know, this “great combination” happened fortunately at the end of winter for those in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the global summer in the south.
The optimal ‘conjunction’ took place at 18.22 this evening.
The two planets were actually more than 730 million kilometers (400 million miles) apart. But because of their alignment with the earth, they seemed to be closer to each other than at any time in nearly 400 years.
The best viewing conditions this evening are clear skies and close to the equator, while people in Western Europe and the vast regions of Africa need to train their vision to the southwest.
Hundreds of space fans gathered in Kolkata, India to watch – through the telescope of a technology museum in the city or from the open spaces around the roofs.
In Kuwait, astronomers set out for the desert west of Kuwait City to capture a once-in-a-lifetime event.
When viewed with a telescope or a good pair of binoculars, the two gas giants are not separated by more than one-fifth the diameter of a full moon.
But with the naked eye, they could merge into a “very bright” twin planet, said Florent Delefly from the Paris Observatory.
The Grand Conjunction is a period of time when two planets have similar positions in relation to the Earth, ”Delifly said.
“With a small instrument – even a small pair of binoculars – people can see Jupiter’s equatorial bands and its major moons and Saturn’s rings.”
Jupiter and Saturn last created this confusion in 1623, but the weather in the regions where the reunion could be seen blocked this view.
On March 4, 1226, to be exact, visibility was even better in the Middle Ages.
Jupiter, the largest planet, takes 12 years to orbit the Sun and 29 years to orbit Saturn.
Every 20 years or so, they appear to approach Earth observers.
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