Jupiter and Saturn’s great conjunction: images of a historic event – 21 Dec. 2020

Last week, we witnessed something unique: a very close conjunction between the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. More than one million individuals worldwide joined our live feed, here we share our best images.

Jupiter and Saturn imaged at the climax of their historic 2020 conjunction. 21 Dec. 2020.

Jupiter and Saturn imaged at the climax of their historic 2020 conjunction. 21 Dec. 2020.

We have been waiting for this unique show for months, ready to share it with our audience around the planet. Surely, this event could be a record setting one, considering its rarity, amazing beauty and importance. And it turned out to be honestly unforgettable.

Our only concern was about the weather, being Winter here in Italy. This is why we started collecting and sharing images over the precious (and clear) days just before the peak. You can see some of them here (16 Dec.) and here (19 Dec.). Once we understood we had good chances for clear skies on Dec. 21st, we were happy and grateful.

The days just before the Jupiter and Saturn’s conjunction have been very exciting: our website registered a huge, increasing traffic, also thanks to the many international media which kindly featured our live feed (thanks to all of them!). On the morning of 21 Dec. our web infrastructure was carefully prepared by our technological partner Seeweb to work under heavy traffic and it shined in performances, as usual.

A total of 1.1 millions of individuals joined us to spy the Jupiter – Saturn Great Conjunction, making this event the 2nd most popular one ever in our history.

The image above comes from the average of five, 0.1-seconds, blue filtered exposures, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The imaging scale is 0.94″/pixel. We used a blue filter to strongly reduce the brightness of the objects. The Sun was just gone and some tiny clouds were around, so the sky was extremely bright and hazy: these are some of the most extreme images we ever grabbed with our telescopes.

I also used a Canon 5DmIV body and a 100-400mm lens + 1.4x extender, to get the images below from the roof of my building in Rome.

Jupiter and Saturn. 21 Dec. 2020.

Jupiter and Saturn. 21 Dec. 2020.

In the image above you can also see the some of the Galilean moons of Jupiter. To show them better and to include Titan (Saturn’s largest satellite), we grabbed this other, much deeper image (the 2th object on the right from Jupiter is a star on the background):

Jupiter and Saturn show their largest moons. 21 Dec. 2021.

Jupiter and Saturn show their largest moons. 21 Dec. 2021.

Unfortunately, Jupiter and Saturn were soon ready to set (being already so low on the South-Western horizon at sunset), so I managed to say them “Goodbye” with a larger field of view, including a few elements of the panorama.

Jupiter and Saturn set behind the threes. 21 Dec. 2020.

Jupiter and Saturn set behind the threes. 21 Dec. 2020.

Below is the podcast from our live feed.

Next time we will see something like this will be year 2080: not sure to be around, so we are happy we could admire all this this time!

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