The Saturn Jupiter Conjunction 2020 will take place tonight. This is the most prominent and the last celestial event for the year 2020. Jupiter and Saturn will align together in a way that they will appear as one single bright star in the night sky on December 21st. While this celestial event occurs every two decades, it is usually too close to the sun to be seen. However, this time not only will it be closer than it has in a while, but it will also happen at night.
According to NASA, “It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this ‘Great conjunction’“. If you are wondering what’s Jupiter Saturn Conjunction, what time in India will it happen, how to watch, and how to photograph it, here’s a detailed article explaining everything.
What is Jupiter Saturn Conjunction?
Popularly known as the “Christmas Star”, the Saturn Jupiter Conjunction is the planetary conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, culminating on the night of December 21st. First spotted in 1623, the Great Conjunction is when the two largest planets of the Solar System travel together across the sky.
These two planets regularly pass each other in the solar system, with their positions being aligned in the sky once every 20 years. However, the Saturn Jupiter Conjunction 2020 is special as these planets have not been this close to each other in over 400 years and it’s been almost 800 years since the phenomenon took place at night.
According to NASA, the planets “planets will be easy to see with the unaided eye by looking toward the southwest just after sunset.”
Saturn Jupiter Conjunction 2020: time in India and how to watch
The moment Jupiter and Saturn are closest in the sky on 21 Dec 2020
Los Angeles: 09:43
New York: 12:43
Rio de Janeiro: 14:43
New Delhi: 23:13
Tokyo: 02:43 (22 Dec)
Sydney: 04:43 (22 Dec)
(+/- minutes; see thread)
— Dr. James O'Donoghue (@physicsJ) December 20, 2020
In case you are curious about this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event and want to witness it, it’s quite easy to do so. As mentioned before, this year the Great Conjunction is happening at night when both planets will appear together as the brightest star in the night sky on December 21st.
While you should be able to watch the conjunction an hour past the sunset, the planets will be closest to each other at a certain time during the night. According to Dr. James O’Donoghue, Planetary Astronomer at JAXA and ex-NASA, the planets will be closest to each other at 11:13pm IST.
NASA has posted several tips to watch the phenomenon on its official blog. According to the post, users will need to find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky and look towards the southwestern sky, an hour after the sunset. Jupiter will have the appearance of a bright star, whereas Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above to the left of Jupiter.
Saturn Jupiter Conjunction 2020: photography tips
Skywatchers, you're in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat! Jupiter & Saturn are doing a planetary dance that will result in the Great Conjunction on Dec 21, just after sunset. Find out:
🤩 When and where to look up
📷 How to photograph the conjunction
— NASA (@NASA) December 20, 2020
NASA has also posted detailed photography tips to capture the Saturn Jupiter Conjunction using a smartphone or DSLR. Since the phenomenon is occurring at night and both planets are bright enough, photographing them doesn’t require elaborate setup or equipment. Following are the steps to capture the conjunction.
Photographing the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter using a smartphone
- Jupiter and Saturn are bright enough to be captured by most modern smartphones
- Use the dedicated night mode to capture a more detailed long-exposure shot
- Use a tripod for a clear and detailed shot. If you don’t have a tripod, prop the phone against something to keep it steady
- Use the wide-angle lens on your smartphone. Keep a subject in the foreground with Saturn and Jupiter above it
- On December 21st, at the time of conjunction (11.13pm IST), the planets will be too close together to be identified separately. Try to click earlier than the conjunction or a day or two after
Photographing the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter using DSLR
- Set your focus to infinity using manual focus for sharpness and aperture to the widest setting on the lens to let more light in
- Use a tripod for long exposure shot. In case you don’t have a tripod, set the shutter speed to less than 1/4 second
- Turn on the image stabiliser for a sharp image
- Turn on the multiple exposure settings on your DSLR and hold the shutter button to take burst shots.
- Use a shutter speed of up to a few seconds to capture Jupiter and Saturn as sharp points. Use wide-angle lens for long exposure.
- In order to see Jupiter’s four bright moons in short exposure, use a 200mm telephoto lens. Saturn’s ring will require an even longer lens or telescope to be clear in the image.