It's not every day that two gaseous giants flirt with each other in the night sky so when Jupiter and Saturn recently turned into "companions", space lovers were armed with their cameras and telescopes to capture the special moment.
The two biggest planets in our solar system Jupiter and Saturn appeared closer to one another in 367 (1623) years on Monday since the Galileo's time in the 17th century.
A rare celestial phenomenon in itself, the event piqued the interest of enthusiasts across the world who brought out their cameras and telescopes to witness the conjunction in the sky like never before. The event also marked the Winter Solstice, the shortest daylight time of the year.
"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," the official Twitter account of NASA tweeted.
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 conjunctionVisit: https://t.co/SdQSLex2Ex pic.twitter.com/DkaB5XyO9B— NASA (@NASA) December 20, 2020
In a subsequent Tumblr post, NASA suggested tips and tricks to netizens to capture the great conjunction.
"Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities," NASA noted.
"An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21," the post further read.
Those who knew the drill, captured the magic through their lenses.
Jupiter, Saturn & visible moons (Callisto, Ganymede, Io, Europa + Titan) 20/12/20 As good a shot of the #GreatConjunction I'm likely to get in London. Tomorrow's forecast is not good. @StormHour @ThePhotoHour @DavidBflower @VirtualAstro #jupitersaturnconjunction Technical info pic.twitter.com/eQhUCmxdU4— Peter Lewis (@PeterLewis55) December 20, 2020
Another clear night!! So glad I got to catch #jupitersaturnconjunction this close. Maybe tomorrow...?Camera: @zwoasi 290mm miniFilter: @baader_astro RedScope: @oriontelescopes SVP 8"~80 frames stackedPlanets processed separately #Astrophotography pic.twitter.com/L5Q3yA1YIm pic.twitter.com/wqNLu7fzJx— Nick Lake (@Nickjlake) December 21, 2020
This is just a quick cap from my cellphone on the eyepiece of my 8" SCT, but I can't believe how cool this is. Jupiter and Saturn appear virtually the same size. #jupitersaturnconjunction pic.twitter.com/G3uSdo1pMV— Michael Reno (@KomuReno) December 21, 2020
A double conjunction. The conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, in conjunction with the light from a lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan. #TheGreatConjunction2020 #jupitersaturnconjunction #wmiwx @ThePhotoHour #astronomy #photography pic.twitter.com/MBMdbPMhzj— Kevin (@Starman) December 21, 2020
Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another," said astronomer Patrick Hartigan.