Salford astronomers have hailed a rare celestial event that will take place on December 21st, as Jupiter and Saturn come together for their closest alignment in 400 years.
Astronomers call this alignment of our solar system’s two biggest planets a ‘grand conjunction’, and this upcoming conjunction is garnering worldwide attention.
Gary Yule, chairman of Salford Astronomical Society, said of the planetary conjunction: “Jupiter and Saturn are going to be the closest they’ve ever observably been since 1226, which is nearly a 1000 year period.
“The conjunctions do happen every twenty years but they’re never this close to each other. At 0.06° apart, it’s a once in a lifetime event.”
The Salford Astronomical Society will be holding a socially distanced trip to watch the ‘grand conjunction’ on Monday, at Rivington Pike – the event will not be observable from the societies usual observatory spot on Buile Hill.
The two planets will be visible to the naked eye, and will look like one extremely bright, non-twinkly star. Mr. Yule said: “It’ll be a fantastic view through a telescope. Even through a small telescope or binoculars, you’ll be able to see Saturn and its rings, and Jupiter and its four Galilean moons!”
There is a common narrative taking place amongst astrologers and some worldwide cultures about this grand conjunction, from the Mayans to the Aborigines.
This ‘once in a lifetime’ cosmic event has been highly anticipated for years due to the belief that it will mark the end of a 200 year cycle of ‘earth sign’ conjunctions, and represent a transition into the ‘Age of Aquarius’.
Astrologers believe this rare conjunction of planets will usher in a new chapter of humanity that will place more value on innovation, community and humanitarianism. Mass meditations will be taking place all around the world in response to the celestial event.
The Star of Bethlehem that led the wise men to Jesus is believed to have been a great conjunction. According to astronomical records, several conjunctions occurred around the time of the beginning of Christianity (between 7 and 4 BC).
“Because of its proximity to the calendar to Christmas, some people like to call it the star of Bethlehem, with the planets being so close that they look like a super bright star on the horizon” Mr. Yule says.
The Saturn and Jupiter conjunction will be visibly low in the south western sky, about an hour after sunset on the 21st. Mr. Yule recommends “getting up somewhere high, away from tree lines and rooftops, with a good South West horizon view”.
This ultra close Jupiter-Saturn conjunction won’t be matched again until 2080, so why not ditch the screens and view this once in a life-time astronomical phenomenon!
Click here for more information on the Salford Astronomical Society