What is Winter Solstice Great Conjunction – Celebrated by Google Doodle?
|Photo: USA Today|
Winter Solstice Great Conjunction Google Doodle: On Monday, as the Northern Hemisphere marks the beginning of winter, we're also being treated to a rare and spectacular sight in the sky: the great conjunction.
Saturn along with the Winter Solstice
Winter Solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year -- a phenomenon that occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun.
According to The Economic Times, the word "solstice" originated from the Latin solstitium meaning "sun stands still". In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice takes place between December 19 and 23. This year it is on December 21.
After Winter Solstice, days start becoming longer and nights shorter for people in the Northern Hemisphere. The reverse phenomena take place for people in the Southern Hemisphere.
However, in addition to the Winter Solstice, another event that the doodle celebrates is The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.
The latest Google Doodle celebrates Winter Solstice and the Great Conjunction with an animated graphic on December 21. Winter solstice usually takes place between December 19 and December 23 in the northern hemisphere. Today's animated Doodle "celebrates the Northern Hemisphere's first day of winter as well as this rare double planet sighting- or "Great Conjunction"- which can be viewed from anywhere around the globe!"
According to Bussiness Today, December 21 marks the Winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and is the shortest day and longest night of the year. The exact opposite happens in the southern hemisphere. 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'.
It's the Great Conjunction after 800 years!
The great conjunction is a visual overlap of Saturn and Jupiter, our solar system’s two biggest planets, in the night sky. The planets will nearly overlap to form a “double planet,” an event that hasn’t been easily visible since the Middle Ages — almost 800 years ago, as cited by The India Express. The celestial phenomenon can be witnessed from anywhere around the globe!
|Jupiter and Saturn Come Closest in 800 Years. Photo: News Mobile|
“Based on their orbits, from our vantage point on Earth, Jupiter and Saturn will cross within .1 degrees of each other (a fraction of the width of the full moon), a once-in-a-lifetime rendezvous recreated in the Doodle artwork. But looks can be deceiving, as the two gas giants will actually remain a vast distance of approximately 450 million miles apart!” Google said.
In the animated doodle, the Great Conjunction is exhibited as cartoon Saturn and Jupiter meeting up for a quick high five, and the winter solstice as the literally “snow-capped” Earth watching the other two planets.
How to view the longest night of the year?
Skywatchers need to find a spot that provides an unhindered view of the sky. Since Jupiter and Saturn are bright planets, they can also be sighted from cities. You need to look to the southwestern sky an hour after sunset.
Jupiter will be easily visible and look like a bright star whereas 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.
|Google and NASA have provided some tips on how best to see this spectacular great conjunction tonight — specifically December 21, 2020, the night of the winter solstice. |
1. Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park.
2. An hour after sunset, Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible in the southwestern sky. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
3. Feel free to use binoculars, but the planets can still be seen with the unaided eye.
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