Jupiter and Saturn: Animation demonstrates conjunction
Jupiter and Saturn will come together in the night’s sky today, treating stargazers to a spectacular phenomenon. The alignment of the two gas giants is known as the Great Conjunction owing to the fact the pair dominate our solar system. Shortly after sunset, the duo will appear southwest in the skies – possibly looking as if they are one star.
The pair will be just 0.1 degrees from each other from your perspective, but in reality, their distance from one another is still almost incomprehensible.
An animation from astronomer Dr James O’Donoghue has now put the planets’ distance into scale.
The video shows Jupiter and Saturn, along with a few of their combined 161 moons, travelling through the solar system.
As the time-lapse approaches December 21, the two move closer together, and travel almost in tandem for a few days.
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Dr O’Donoghue wrote in a caption alongside the video: “Look south-west after sunset.
“They’re close for a long time so don’t worry about not being precise.”
While the planets may appear close together tonight, their distance is quite literally astronomical.
Jupiter and Saturn will be slightly more than 450 million miles apart.
To put it into perspective, when Earth and Jupiter are at their closest, they are just 365 million miles from each other.
It is the sheer size of both planets which make them look a lot closer than they are.
Jupiter is about one-tenth the size of the Sun and almost 320 times as massive as Earth.
Jupiter is so big that if all of the other mass of the solar system was combined into a ‘super planet’, the gas giant would still be two and a half times as big.
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Saturn is also a true monster of the solar system.
The ringed-planet is roughly 95 times as massive as Earth, and the rings alone are 240,000 miles wide.
Earth, on the other hand, is a mere 7,900 miles wide.
Due to their positioning in the sky, the Great Conjunction will; only be visible for an hour after sunset, after which, your position on Earth turns away from them.
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