Make sure you get outside on 21st December 2020 for The Great Conjuction. Want to know how to see The Great Conjunction in the UK? Read on!
The Great Conjunction! Jupiter and Saturn, two of the brightest planets in our solar system, will be so closely aligned that they will appear almost as one bright star in the sky! It will be possible to see this with the naked eye if you are able to see close enough to the horizon. As well as being called 'The Great Conjunction', this phenomenon is sometimes also referred to as 'The Christmas Star' or 'The Star of Bethlehem'.
Why is this special?
You'd have to go back almost 800 years, to 4th March 1226, since this phenomenon was last so clearly visible. And you'd have to wait another 60 years to 2080 before it will be visible again - we might not all be here by then!
When can I see it?
Just after 4pm on Monday 21st December 2020; don't leave it too late! Depending on your location up to 30-45 minutes after sunset is best (if you're further North in the UK, 30 rather than 45 is better as it will disappear below the horizon quicker). You can find the time the sunsets where you are on your weather app, and as a guide the sun sets at 15:40 in Edinburgh and 15:54 in London on 21st December 2020.
How can I see it?
The 'star' will be visible with the naked eye in a South-South-Westerly direction. If you're not sure then consider where the sun rises (that's East), where the sun sets (that's West) or where the sun is at midday (that's South). Or cheat and use a compass - your smart phone may well have one!
You need to be looking low down, just 10 degrees above the horizon. You can estimate 10 degrees by fully extending your arm towards the horizon; if the bottom of your fist is on the horizon (zero degrees), the top of your fist will be approximately the right height.
As it will be so low in the sky, it is best to be high up and away from too many buildings if possible so that you have a clear view.
Want to know more?
You can also use this 2021 Guide to the Night Sky if you or someone you know would like to learn more on this topic.
What if I missed it?
You can also watch it live from Arizona in the US via the Lowell Observatory's YouTube channel here. The livestream will commence at 5pm in Arizona, which is just after 23:59 UK time on 21st December. Or if you're too late for that, pop outside on a clear night anyway and see what you can observe.
Happy viewing! If you take any good photos, please share them in The Adventure Forum.
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Here are our Adventure Gift Ideas;
See December's adventure book suggestion;
Meet adventure friends with The Adventure Forum;
Watch Fools & Dreamers, a 30 minute documentary about regenerating a native forest;
Challenge yourself with cheese and hiking in August - leaving you summer to prepare;