Jupiter and Saturn Great Conjunction: How to see the Christmas star?

JUPITER and Saturn will come so close together they'll form a rare "double planet" phenomenon for the first time in 800 years.

The event is happening on December 21.

Some people are referring to the event as the forming of a "Christmas Star" or "Star of Bethlehem", while others are linking it to the apocalypse.

Jupiter and Saturn have been getting closer together over the last few months and you won't even need a telescope to spot the phenomenon.

The last time stargazers could observe this event was back in the Middle Ages on March 4, 1226.

The two planets did also come close together in the 1600s but this wasn't said to be visible from Earth.

The celestial event is called the Great Conjunction and will be taking place for people all over the world on December 21, just in time for Christmas.

That means there's still time to mark it on your calendar and wish for clear skies.

Jupiter and Saturn will come just 0.06º away from each other.

That's about 1/5 of the diameter of a full Moon.

To the naked eye this will look like one big bright star.

How can I see the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn?

If we're lucky enough not to have cloudy skies on December 21, the celestial event should be visible all over the world.

You'll need to look low down in the western sky an hour after sunset and below the Capricornus constellation.

A night sky scanning app could be used to point you to the right constellation.

Remember that stargazing is best done in an open and dark place with limited light pollution.

What time will Jupiter and Saturn align on Monday?

The alignment of Jupiter and Saturn will occur on Monday, December 21, will be visible from anywhere on Earth – though conditions will be best near the equator.

As Jupiter’s and Saturn’s 12- and 29-year orbits bring them together they will appear low in the western sky.

About 45 minutes after sunset observers should look 10º above the south-southwest horizon to see Jupiter and Saturn shining almost as one.

Sunset will take place at 15:53 in London, 16:06 in Cardiff, 15:59 in Belfast and 15:39 in Edinburgh.

What does Saturn and Jupiter together mean?

As if 2020 hadn't been bad enough, some conspiracy theorists think the Saturn and Jupiter meet up could spell the end of the world.

This is due to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar.

According to the Daily Express, doomsday predictor Pastor Paul Begley said: "It will be the closest Jupiter and Saturn have been since 1623 and it won't even come that close again for another 500 years.

"So this is so rare and it's going to be on the winter solstice. It's going to be on December 21, 2020.

"The Mayans are now reorganising and saying this could certainly be the end of the world as we know it."

Of course, there is no hard evidence to suggest this is correct.

According to Astrology.com, some astrologists believe Jupiter and Saturn coming close together leads to old forms dying and new growth beginning.

What we know for sure is that some stargazers across the planet will be in for an interesting visual treat next week.

Saturn’s rings – what are they, and how did they form?

Here’s what you need to know…

  • The rings of Saturn are mostly made of water ice particles, as well as some rock debris and dust
  • It's the most extensive ring system of any planet in our Solar System
  • The dense main rings extend from 4,300 miles away to 50,000 miles away from Saturn's equator
  • They have an estimated local thickness that ranges from 10 metres to 1 kilometre
  • The rings are caught in a balancing act around the planet
  • Gravity is drawing them inwards, but the speed of their orbit wants to fling them out to space
  • But latest research suggests gravity is winning, with Saturn's rings expected to disappear within 100million and 300million years
  • Scientists are divided on exactly how the rings of Saturn formed
  • One theory is that small, icy moons orbiting Saturn collided, smashing up into bits and creating rings
  • It's also possible these icy moons were struck by large comets or asteroids, or were broken apart by gravity
  • The second popular theory is that the rings were never part of a moon, but leftover material from the formation of Saturn

In other space news, Elon Musk has plans for humans to live in glass domes on Mars.

Human cremated ashes are to be sent to the Moon next year as part of a commercial burial service piggybacking on a Nasa lunar mission.

And, wars could be settled in space in the future, a top RAF chief has warned.

Will you be stargazing this weekend? Let us know in the comments…

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