Jupiter and Saturn 'Great Conjunction' and the Winter Solstice
Did you know that today is not only the Winter Solstice - the time when the days start slowly getting longer and bringing more light into our world - but it is also a highly unusual event and one that we will only ever see once in our lifetime...
At approximately 345pm today, Jupiter and Saturn will appear so close to each other in the sky - approx 0.1 degrees apart in fact - that they will look like one giant star!
Known as a 'grand conjunction', the last time the planets were this close from our viewpoint on Earth was almost 400 hundred years ago on 16 July 1623.
Jupiter is in fact 886,440km from Earth and Saturn is another 733,205km beyond it. However from Earth they will look like what has been known in the past as the 'Christmas Star' - the Star of Bethlehem perhaps.
What a wonderful sight! Last night I gazed out at approx 345pm and the two huge planets were visible on the clearest night there has been in a while, with the beautiful crescent moon to the left. It was truly magical and I am hoping tonight is clear again.
Later this afternoon, look up to the south western sky towards the horizon about 3.54pm GMT tto see this.
The planets will only continue to shine for around two hours, so make sure you get out and have a look before 6pm GMT, after which the UK's positioning on Earth will have turned away from them.
I feel that this is a sign of hope after a year of difficult times for all of us. Guiding us into a new year full of happiness and joy. How lucky are we that we get to see this in our lifetime! It really makes you realise the wonder of the Universe!
For other signs of hope visit the wonderful Sanctuary First webpage and to find out more about this amazing event.
Wishing you happy stargazing!