Winter Solstice 2020 & The Rare Christmas Star
It’s the Winter Solstice today. Traditionally Winter Solstice marks the beginning of Christmas and New Year celebrations worldwide. Winter Solstice is that day of the year when we see fewest hours of daylight. After Winter Solstice, days start becoming longer and nights shorter for people in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s just the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere.
The world ‘solstice’ is derived from a Latin word meaning the ‘stalled sun’. Both Summer and Winter Solstices are astronomical events marking the movement of the Sun and change in the duration of day and nighttime.
The ‘Great Conjunction’ of the Jupiter and Saturn, happening after nearly 800 years.
This December, Jupiter and Saturn will put on a show for sky-gazers that hasn’t been seen in roughly 800 years. Astronomers are calling it the Great Conjunction of 2020. On December 21 — coincidentally the winter solstice — the two largest planets in our solar system will appear to almost merge in Earth’s night sky.
In fact, Jupiter and Saturn will be so close that you will be able to fit them both in the same telescopic field of view. That’s an incredibly rare occurrence. The last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close together away from the Sun was in 1226 A.D., at a time when Genghis Khan was conquering large swaths of Asia, and Europe was still generations away from the Renaissance.
Humanity won’t have to wait quite as long to see the solar system’s two largest planets repeat this month’s performance. Another Great Conjunction will occur in 2080. Of course, many of us alive today won’t be around then, so it would be wise to soak in this show while you can.