By Elalin de Vera-Ruiz
Jupiter and Saturn, the largest planets in the universe, take part in a rare show on December 21st before the fireworks illuminate the sky and brighten up everyone during the New Year celebrations.
This is because the two planets come close to each other in the astronomical event of the “Great Conjunction”.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says that although Jupiter and Saturn orbit together throughout the year, they appear one-fifth the distance apart from a full moon – the closest they have achieved in the last two decades.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Filipinos have the opportunity to witness this rare event where Jupiter and Saturn coexist.
The giant planets are reported to have -2.0 and 0.6 magnitudes, respectively, between the background stars of Sagittarius.
“To see the atmospheric features of these two planets, satellites and rings need a medium-sized telescope in dark and clear skies,” Pagasa said.
Jupiter and Saturn can be seen at 36 and 34 degrees on the southwest horizon.
According to NASA, the greatest Jupiter-Saturn fusion will occur only every 20 years in this century.
According to a New York Times report, the Jupiter-Saturn orbit on December 21, 2020 is unique, as it will be the closest after 1623.
NASA has warned that the “biggest” reunion between Jupiter and Saturn is unlikely to occur again for the next 60 years, as by 2080 the two planets will reappear at very close distances from each other.
This year will end the winter with a great combination of Jupiter and Saturn.
Pagasa said the sun will reach winter on December 21, which means Filipino nights will be longer than daytime.
Winter is another annual circuit around the sun that marks the completion of the earth.
“It marks the time when the sun lies on the south side of the equator. It represents winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere, ”said Pagasa. (Elalin de Vera-Ruiz)