Home / Science / News /  Google Doodle celebrates winter solstice 2020 and great conjunction of Jupiter-Saturn

Google Doodle on Monday celebrated the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year, on Monday. This phenomenon occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun.

This year's Winter Solstice is coinciding with another special astronomical event -- the "Great Conjunction" of our solar system's two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

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On 21 December, Jupiter and Saturn will merge in the night sky, appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo's time in the 17th century. In India, it will be visible from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Astronomers say so-called conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn in our solar system aren't particularly rare. Jupiter passes its neighbor Saturn in their respective laps around the sun every 20 years.

But the one coming up is especially close: Jupiter and Saturn will be just one-tenth of a degree apart from our perspective or about one-fifth the width of a full moon. They should be easily visible around the world a little after sunset, weather permitting.

Skywatchers on Earth will be able to see the conjunction with the naked eye and this just-in-time-for-Christmas spectacle promises to be one of the greatest of Great Conjunctions.

This will be the closest Jupiter-Saturn pairing since July 1623, when the two planets appeared a little nearer. This conjunction was almost impossible to see, however, because of its closeness to the sun.

Saturn and Jupiter have been drawing closer in the south-southwest sky for weeks. Jupiter — bigger and closer to Earth — is vastly brighter.

Despite appearances, Jupiter and Saturn will actually be more than 450 million miles (730 million kilometers) apart. Earth, meanwhile, will be 550 million miles (890 million kilometers) from Jupiter.

A telescope will not only capture Jupiter and Saturn in the same field of view, but even some of their brightest moons.

Their next super-close pairing will be on 15 March, 2080.

The animated Google Doodle

The animated Google Doodle exhibits Great Conjunction, and the Winter Solstice as the literally "snow-capped" Earth watching the other two planets.

The event "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn is also being referred to as the "Christmas Star of 2020."

The celestial show is set to take place after nearly 400 years "since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night," says NASA.

Know about winter solstice 2020

The word "solstice" originated from the Latin solstitium meaning "sun stands still". In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice takes place between 19 and 23 December while this year it is on 21 December.

After Winter Solstice, days start becoming longer and nights shorter for people in the Northern Hemisphere. The reverse phenomena take place for people in the Southern Hemisphere.

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