Starting at 5 p.m. MST / 7 p.m. EST on the 21st, Lowell Astronomers and educators will share spectacular live views of Jupiter and Saturn through observatory telescopes while discussing the nature of conjunctions. The winter solstice also happens on the 21st and the Lowell team explains the astronomical relationship with the seasons and why they occur.
This livestream event lasts approximately two hours and ends when the two setting planets are no longer visible.
Guests can attend the event by visiting the Lowell Observatory's YouTube page here.
Every 20 years, the two largest planets in our solar system – Jupiter and Saturn – seem to meet in the earth's sky. One such event is known as a great conjunction, and the next one happens in December. The two planets are now moving closer together every night and will reach their closest rapprochement on the 21st. This is also the night of the winter solstice and the height of the Ursid meteor shower.
During typical large conjunctions, Jupiter and Saturn are approximately one degree apart (the width of two full moons). However, during this year's event, the two gas giants will be only 0.1 degrees apart (1/5 the diameter of the full moon). This is the closest contact between Jupiter and Saturn since the great conjunction of 1623.
On the 21st, Jupiter and Saturn will look like two bright stars that are almost touching each other from the human eye. In binoculars or a wide-field telescope, they still appear pretty close together. A telescope with high magnification shows the cloud belts of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn as well as several of their moons – a spectacular sight.
Further information and graphics can be found in this letter Video. You can find the livestream event on December 21 here.