Scientists are ready to stream a lifelong ‘Christmas Star’ event with Devon so that ordinary people can see Jupiter and Saturn, their moons and rings with a single telescope as they pass together in an event known to pass astronomers as The Great Conjunction 2020.
The combination would give the idea of a giant star or ‘double planet’. Gas giants will be closer to the night sky during Christmas for centuries.
The gathering is also known as the ‘Christmas Star’ or the ‘Star of Bethlehem’. The next time the Christmas star will be visible from Earth is 2080.
Buffins in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Exeter are optimistic for clear skies so they can live-stream the scene from a powerful telescope on the Internet and provide an explanation to explain what is seen.
Which level should Devon be next? Click here to have your say in our survey
The event depends on the weather and clear, cloudless skies. You need to sign up here to get involved and update when exactly the two-hour live-stream will happen.
On December 21, 2020, the two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will be closer than at any time in 400 years. They will pass each other’s degrees between 1-10 – this is only 1/5 the size of the moon and that means it will be possible to see both planets together through the same telescope at once.
The actual time of the Great Amalgamation of Stars may come in at 6.37pm on Monday 21st December but it may be possible to see them together from 15th December because these are large planets, they can be seen with the naked eye, even light polluted cities.
But a powerful telescope would also give a view of Jupiter’s four largest Galilean moons, Saturn and Saturn’s largest moon Titan’s ring and Jupiter’s disk, the university has never announced a live stream.
The good news is that it will take place between 4pm and midnight so that children can attend. The sun planets are best seen half an hour after sunset. They will disappear behind the horizon with two hours of sunset. December 21 is the shortest day of winter existence.
Want to hear more from Devon Live? Sign up for our free newsletter here.
To see with the naked eye or through binoculars you have to look from a place with a clear view of the southwest horizon because the planets will be less in the sky.
The next great combination will be 2000 years from now.