In December 2020 a vibrant astronomical event took place: the “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn. On December 21, the two planets got as close together as 6.1 arcminutes. Last comparably close conjunction (less than 10 arcminutes) took place in 1623, and the next one will occur in about 60 years, on 15 March 2080. So this is an event most of today’s adults will not get to see ever in their life again.
Unfortunately, Western Europe was plagued by cloudy weather during the second half of December, and Northern Italy was no exception. I managed to observe and image the event on December 17, with the planets about 29 arcminutes apart and on December 18 through the clouds, with the planets 23 arcminutes apart. Then, a long train of cloud fronts rolled in, and I was clouded out for more than three full days, including the 21st.
On December 22, the weather had been overcast almost all day because of thick cirrus cloud. The weather forecast did not give much hope, but fortunately, and against all odds, it cleared up around mid-afternoon, thus allowing me to image the conjunction. It was not the closest distance, but not bad either at 8’31”.
Here are my best shots taken on the 17th and on the 22nd. The seeing on the 17th was decent (which enabled me to capture a bunch of Jupiter’s and Saturn’s satellites), while on the 22nd it was awful. The image from the 22nd was taken through a Tecnosky 2x aplanatic barlow, for an equivalent focal length of about 4000 mm. This latter image comes in two versions: a "plain" one and an annotated one.
Pity for the less than ideal circumstances, but at least I am glad I got my little souvenir of this remarkable astronomical event!
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