Jupiter, Saturn, Clouds

Jupiter and Saturn in the sky, about to be swallowed by the cloud cover.

Since many of you who frequent this site are complete nerds, you’re probably aware that in tonight’s sky Jupiter and Saturn are within a tenth of a degree of each other, which is their closest conjunction in eight centuries. And because I’m the sort of nerd I am, I was hoping to see that. For much of the day the sky conspired against me — rain and complete cloud cover. At sunset, however, the sky cleared up juuuuuust enough that Jupiter and Saturn were briefly visible. Here’s a shot of the two of them just before the were once again completely concealed by clouds. Thank you, sky, for cooperating if only briefly. It’s nice to see astronomical history with one’s own eyes.

— JS

29 Comments on “Jupiter, Saturn, Clouds”

  1. Luckily tonight we have clear skies (in NC) and it looks like a bright star. Using the binoculars made it possible to see each individually. Yes, a lot of nerding out over here!

  2. Here in Maryland, I had more sun during the day than Scalzi did, and the evening sky was just clear enough. I caught a great view of the conjunction. Definitely saw two separate points of light rather than one big blob :) Happy winter solstice, everyone!

  3. The family and I went to an empty parking lot to see the conjunction. I tried to get a photo through the eyepiece of my telescope. (Handheld and on a cell phone.) I was able to get two large blobs for Jupiter and Saturn and two smaller blobs for Jovian moons.

    I’d try to share, but I seem to already be on a moderation naughty list and posting links won’t help.

  4. My wife and I just saw the planets. We’re in Illinois, near St. Louis. Clear skies and shiny planets!

  5. Nice! I came running home from errands, with the planets just still in sight above the trees and houses, and yelled at my family to be ready to drop everything to come out and see. By the time I’d wrestled the telescope out and set it up–knocking it over in the snow in my rush–the two points of light were just disappearing. Moment lost. (But I did glimpse them, as dots, in the binoculars.)

  6. Thank you! Absolutely no glimpse of it in London, England because of both cloud cover and light pollution so this is a great Christmas gift.

    In return, please double and redouble your families defences against COVID-19. The variant here in London and south east England is moving with extraordinary speed, and whilst it may not worsen the symptoms of it – we just don’t have the data we need to be absolutely sure about it – the variant will increase the death rate because of the sheer increase in numbers of patients with the disease swamping the hospitals.

    My daughter is a consultant physician in an Acute Medical Unit at a hospital in Kent which is close to ground zero on the new variant. She and her fellow consultants have been at the sharp end since the beginning of the year, and despite their proximity to it in the most dangerous position of all: intubating a patient: they had escaped catching it till 3 weeks ago when they went down like skittles one by one. They have all recovered, hopefully with no continuing problems; one of their fellow consultants in a different speciality is very ill indeed, and it’s not looking good.

    Over the weekend every oxygen alarm in her hospital went off signalling imminent supply failure to all the hospital. They had to reduce everyone’s oxygen target SATs to stop the oxygen system going off completely; since oxygen is the major tool in treating Covid reducing the oxygen supply is bound to have ill effects. They had no choice.

    Tonight I got a very long email from our health authorities giving guidance to those considered clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid, of whom I am one.

    The short version is “This virus will kill you if you catch it so don’t catch it”.

    I am sure that there are fellow posters here in the same boat and I have every faith in them to respond appropriately; what is really worrying me is that there are also many posters who are not in a high risk group and fail to realise that it is very easy indeed to end up seriously ill, or even dead, because the hospitals don’t have the capacity to treat them.

    After hours spent reading about this, and talking to my daughter about it, I was in need of your photo of the conjunction; it greatly lifted my spirits. I hope that my post doesn’t spoil the effect for those uninterested in the wretched bug…

  7. I already knew there was no chance of seeing it here in Seattle (the university’s astronomy department does their field work in Hawaii, or so I’ve heard) but at least we get snow!! Yes, it just started snowing… while common in our Cascades (about an hour’s drive), it’s not common at sea level.

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    But it was clearly visible here, in Delhi…

  9. Wonderful! Been watching them creeping together since summer! The clouds parting for just the right moment, reminds me of my getting to see the total phase of the eclipse in August 2017 in Troy, Kansas!

  10. Dear John,

    Lucked out here (Daly City, CA), too. Fog rolled in about 3 PM, but then started to clear out again after sunset — not the usual state of the weather!

    We were able to set up the 10″ Dobsonian and get a lovely look at both planets,looking like a frikkin’ matte painting!

    Grabbed some snaps with my camera held up to the eyepiece.

    (First time I’ve ever tried embedding an image in a message — let’s see how I make out.)

    pax / Ctein

  11. San Francisco, which usually calls the fog in for any important event requiring visibility, was actually clear with only a few wisps of high clouds in another part of the sky. We actually got to see it!

  12. OK, that was a big fail…. better bone up on my HTML…

    Here’s a link…. I hope…

  13. I thought about going out to look at it, but lost track of time. I have been seeing Saturn and Jupiter near each other in the sky for several months. The first couple of times, I went to the internet to see which planets were near the moon in the sky, and found that Saturn and Jupiter were the ones I was seeing. So I didn’t expect tonight’s even to be any more than those two lights in the sky closer to each other. I don’t own a telescope.

    It’s kind of like the “super moon” that seems to get people excited. But it’s just a full moon.

    I’m not immune to celestial events. Seeing Hale-Bopp in the sky in the late 90s was really cool. I traveled to Tennessee a few years back and got a perfect view of the total solar eclipse. There is no photograph that does it justice.

  14. We actually had clear skies in Atlanta. I didn’t get a picture, but was able to have a good view of the western sky from a local cemetery. Got a little monocular that can’t quite resolve Saturn’s rings; do miss having a real telescope.

  15. I saw it with binoculars since there’s no place in my backyard where I can get a view of it with my telescope. I was surprised that you could see it in Ohio before it got dark enough here on Florida’s east coast. I guess being well north is making up for being somewhat west. I wouldn’t have expected that.

  16. Got a brief daylight look around sunset yesterday, then clouds rolled in. The day before I got a good night-time look, and yeah, ok, there’s a bright dot and a dim dot; I’ve been more impressed by the view of the two planets gradually approaching each other over the last month or two.

    Mars is also out, so you can go out in the evening and see four and a half planets without a telescope (counting Earth and Moon.)

  17. Thanks to clear skies in SoCal (LA area) last night I was able to see them with the naked eye and I swear that I could make out Jupiter’s moons (two at least) as well. I also used a small telescope and weren’t able to get the greatest of pics, but they at least give a good idea of the event. Looked at the moon too and it was nice to be able to see it’s craters up close. All in all, it wasn’t a bad night, if I say so myself.

  18. Thanks for that. I would love to have seen it, but as others have noted above it was snowing here in Seattle. I saw it on tv through telescopes, but wondered what it looked like from the ground without. Now I know. So, again, thanks.

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