The latest Google Doodle celebrates Winter Solstice and the Great Conjunction with an animated graphic on December 21. Let’s try and understand what it is, why it’s so special and when you can watch it.
What is the Winter Solstice and Great Conjunction
Winter solstice usually takes place between December 19 and December 23 in the northern hemisphere. The 21st marks this event in the northern hemisphere and is the shortest day and longest night of the year.
The Great Conjunction occurs when Jupiter and Saturn overlap in the night sky. The Jupiter Saturn Great Conjunction is being referred to as the ‘Christmas Star of 2020’.
Why it is important?
According to NASA, this event will take place after approximately 400 years since the planets were this close to each other in the sky and almost 800 years after Jupiter and Saturn aligned in the night.
How You can watch the great conjunction
You need to find a spot that provides an unhindered view of the sky. Luckily, it does not have to be in upcountry since Jupiter and Saturn are bright planets. They can also be sighted from cities. You need to look to the southwestern sky at around 6.20 PM South African Time.
Jupiter will be easily visible and look like a bright star. Saturn will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter and will look slightly fainter. Jupiter will then overtake Saturn and both the planets will interchange positions in the sky.
You can watch it without any tech actually. However, if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see four moons of Jupiter. Also, if weather permits at Dyer Observatory, we’ll be streaming a live view of the conjunction from one of the observatory’s telescopes.