Sky-watching enthusiasts were able to observe with the naked eye this Monday the biggest “approach” of Jupiter and Saturn in the last 400 years. As usual, the tendency is not just to observe, capturing moments with photographs that end up standing out on the Internet.
The alignment between Jupiter and Saturn, which gives the illusion of approximation, happens every 20 years, but only every 400 years they are at a very short “distance” from each other. This phenomenon has been happening in the last few days and yesterday, from 7:38 pm, it was possible to observe the pinnacle of this approach.
Before that, SAPO TeK had already collected some photos shared by the Space Weather community that showed this approach. Now more images of the phenomenon appear, accompanied by internet users from all corners of the world, including Portugal, both through smartphones, cameras and telescopes.
We have compiled some of the images from the observation of the phenomenon in this gallery
NASA has not yet shared “impressive” photographs of the phenomenon, but has revealed more images of the “Christmas Star” on Twitter.
Animating videos also show the “approach” between Jupiter and Saturn.
On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn “will look so close that a little finger at the distance of an extended arm will be enough to cover the two planets in the sky,” said NASA even before the peak of the phenomenon.
In Portugal, and according to the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory, the two planets could be observed in full on December 21st, at 19:38 minutes, at a maximum height of 32º in the case of Saturn and 31º for Jupiter, with magnitudes of +0.6 and -2.0, respectively.
Despite the optical illusion of their approach to each other, the planets are, in fact, hundreds of millions of kilometers apart. NASA also said that despite the great approach taking place on the same day as the winter solstice, it is just a coincidence, based on the orbit of the planets and the alignment with the Earth.