Jupiter, Saturn coming closer tonight

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A very rare celestial phenomenon will take place tonight when the two biggest planets of the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn comes closure to each other probably appearing them as a big elongated single planet, Colombo University’s Physics Department Professor and Astronomy and Space Science Unit Director Prof. Chandana Jayaratne said.

“ you will see the two planets are gradually coming closer to each other and the closet approach will occur today when the two planets will be separated by just about one-tenth of a degree or 6.1 arc minutes. The last time these two planets appeared so close was 397 years ago, on July 16, 1623, when they were only 5 arc minutes apart. We will get another 6-arc minute separation on March 15, 2080,” said Prof. Jayaratne.

Tonight the two planets will set down at 8.14 p.m.

Therefore, to watch this spectacular event, it is better to select a place where you can see the western skies clearly without much trees or buildings.

About 30 minutes after the sunset, say from 6.30 p.m. – 7.30 p.m. period, look at the western skies closer to the horizon and towards somewhat northwest direction, you would see the two planets, perhaps as a double star or an elongated ball of light.

Naked eye observation is possible or you may use a binocular.