Google Doodle shows astronomical events: winter solstice, major conjunction

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The animated Google Doodle today shows Great Conjunction and Winter Solstice.

Google Doodle is now observing the winter solstice – the shortest day and longest night of the year – a phenomenon that occurs when one of the earth’s poles is at its maximum tilt away from the sun.

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstice and means “sun stands still”. In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs between December 19 and 23. This year it’s December 21st.

After the winter solstice, the days get longer and the nights get shorter for people in the northern hemisphere. The reverse phenomenon occurs in people in the southern hemisphere.

This year’s winter solstice coincides with another special astronomical event – the “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn.

On Monday evening, Jupiter and Saturn will be in a rare planetary alignment and will appear closer to the evening sky in almost 800 years. They won’t appear that close until 2080.

The animated Google Doodle shows Great Conjunction, where Saturn and Jupiter meet for a quick high five, and the winter solstice as literally “snow-covered” earth watching the other two planets.

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The “Great Conjunction” event of Jupiter and Saturn is also known as the “Christmas Star of 2020”.

According to NASA, “the two planets will appear only a tenth of a degree apart,” and such an event will not occur again in the next 60 years, that is, until 2080.

The celestial show is slated to take place after nearly 400 years “since the planets in the sky were so close together and nearly 800 years since Saturn and Jupiter were aligned at night,” says NASA.

Astronomers say that conjunctions between the two largest planets in our solar system are not particularly rare. Jupiter passes its neighbor Saturn every 20 years in their respective laps around the sun. Today’s celestial event, however, is particularly close: Jupiter and Saturn will be only a tenth of a degree from our perspective, or about a fifth the width of a full moon. And if the weather permits, the planets should be clearly visible around the world shortly after sunset.

The planets will come comparatively close on March 15, 2080. By the night of December 21, their physical distance will be around 735 million km, Debi Prasad Duari, director of the MP Birla Planetarium, said in a statement.

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