The shortest day of the year is going to build a big show.
On Monday, as the Northern Hemisphere marks the beginning of winter with a psalm, we are led to a rare and spectacular view of the sky:.
During the event, the two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will appear very close to each other, as if they were intertwined to form a twin planet. We were last treated for a vision like this in the Middle Ages – almost 800 years ago.
Some associate this with the fictional star of Bethlehem who guided the three sages in the Bible’s Nativity story.
To celebrate the first day of winter and the great connection that occurs on the same day, Google has created an animated doodle that will give Saturn a high-five as it goes into its solar system orbit on Thursday.
A connection occurs when any two astronomical objects appear together in the sky when observed from Earth. In our view, even though the two giant planets are actually 450 million miles apart, only about one tenth of a degree will appear.
The merger of the two planets occurs every 19.6 years, but for the first time since 1226 the pair aligns at night and the Earthlings are able to see it.
The close alignment is easily visible to the naked eye when looking at the southwest sky after sunset.
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