The Great Conjunction

Stars can be easily classified by their color: Red means they are relatively cool, yellow indicates a temperature of just under 6000 Kelvin, and violet signals the greatest possible heat. And the elegant white? Speaks either for up to 7500 Kelvin- or a Bentley Continental GTC V8, in which one follows the "Great Conjunction".
Text Marko Knab
Photo Ken Schluchtmann

Winter is considered a cold and dark season. Its long and often clear nights offer many benefits: Stars and other astronomical events in the night sky can be observed longer and sometimes better. The fact that the "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn falls on today's date after twenty years is, mathematically speaking, no coincidence. A luck however all times - at least for those, which do not find a closed cloud cover over themselves. One possibility would be to observe the whole thing in the Alps and under the open sky. In the middle of the the Plough from Crewe, for example. And with the top down, of course.

Eine Möglichkeit wäre da, das Ganze in den Alpen und unter freiem Himmel zu beobachten. Mitten im großen Wagen aus Crewe zum Beispiel. Und mit geöffnetem Verdeck natürlich.

What makes December 21, 2020 so special besides the observation site used? And what is this "Great Conjunction"? Every twenty years, the orbital periods of the gas planets Jupiter and Saturn produce a common denominator, and the galactic heavyweights visually converge: Jupiter has then orbited the Sun five times, Saturn has managed just two laps of its orbit. And that's exactly what's happening now around 6 p.m., in a downward sloping line from Mars and the clearly visible Moon. Only six minutes of arc (the unit of calculation in the night sky) separate the large gas planets just above the horizon.

Every twenty years, the orbital periods of the gas planets Jupiter and Saturn produce a common denominator, and the galactic heavyweights visually converge: Jupiter has then orbited the Sun five times, Saturn has managed just two laps of its orbit.

If your gaze wanders upward from the constellation Aquarius, you can see the StarLink satellites shot into orbit by Elon Musk's company SpaceX darting across the sky pretty much exactly at 6:29 pm. Shortly after 7 p.m., it's all over again: Equally the "Great Conjunction" as the flyby of the artificial Earth satellites.

What remains besides the memory of a special hour in the open air? The realization that, compared to the giants at the edge of the solar system, one is quite small, even in »the Plough« from Crewe - which, however, is one of the smaller constellations in the Bentley universe. Nevertheless, with this convertible you can enjoy the night open even in winter. Thanks to sophisticated ventilation. After all, white stars are quite well-temperated from a galactic point of view.


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