Missed Great Conjunction 'Christmas Star'? Last chance to see Jupiter and Saturn meet up TONIGHT
TONIGHT is your last chance to witness the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction in the sky.
The planets came extremely close together on December 21 in a once in a lifetime event but have remained pretty close for the past two weeks.
December 29 will also see the last full Moon of 2020.
Nasa said: "On the evening of this full Moon (December 29, 2020), as evening twilight ends (at 5:58 PM EST), the bright planet Jupiter will appear 7.5 degrees above the horizon in the west-southwest with the planet Saturn appearing less than 1 degree to the lower right of Jupiter. "
You'll need clear skies to spot the planets though as they won't be anywhere near as bright or visible as they were last week.
Try looking to the southwest and low on the horizon just after twilight.
You may need a telescope or binoculars.
This is probably your last chance of seeing the planets like this.
They'll come together again in March 2080.
The last time stargazers could observe this event was back in the Middle Ages on March 4, 1226.
They do come together more frequently but sometimes it occurs during daylight hours so can't be seen from Earth.
This time the conjunction came so close to Christmas that the planets were referred to as a 'Christmas Star' as they looked like one star from a distance.
Some people even thought the event meant the end of the world.
This was due to an interpretation of the Mayan calendar which connected December 21 to the day of the apocalypse.
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, an impressive amount of 'alien soil' from a huge asteroid has been revealed by Japan's space agency.
Britain is to launch a spacecraft next year in a mission to ambush a comet and unlock mysteries of the universe.
And, Nasa has announced its first team of astronauts that will be heading for the Moon.
Will you be stargazing this evening? Let us know in the comments…
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