The latest Google Doodle celebrates Winter Solstice and the Great Conjunction with an animated graphic on December 21. Winter solstice usually takes place between December 19 and December 23 in the northern hemisphere. Today's animated Doodle "celebrates the Northern Hemisphere's first day of winter as well as this rare double planet sighting- or "Great Conjunction"- which can be viewed from anywhere around the globe!"
December 21 marks the Winter solstice in northern hemisphere and is the shortest day and longest night of the year. The exact opposite happens in the southern hemisphere. The Great Conjunction occurs when Jupiter and Saturn overlap in the night sky. The Jupiter Saturn Great Conjunction is being referred to as the 'Christmas Star of 2020'.
According to NASA, this event will take place after approximately 400 years since the planets were this close to each other in the sky and almost 800 years after Jupiter and Saturn aligned in the night.
Here's how to view the longest night of the year
Skywatchers need to find a spot that provides an unhindered view of the sky. Since Jupiter and Saturn are bright planets, they can also be sighted from cities. You need to look to the southwestern sky an hour after sunset.
Jupiter will be easily visible and look like a bright star whereas Saturn will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter and will look slightly fainter. Jupiter will then overtake Saturn and both the planets will interchange positions in the sky.
Planets can be viewed with the naked eye; however, if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see the four moons of Jupiter.
Winter solstice visibility in India
The December 21 Winter Solstice can be sighted in India at 03:32 pm, according to timeanddate.com. Skywatchers in North America, Central America, Europe, Asia and northern Africa can also view this winter solstice depending on the weather conditions. Why is the Great Conjunction called the Christmas Star?
The conjunction is being called Christmas Star because though the planets will appear to be apart from one another, they will appear as one big star like the Star of Bethlehem which appeared in the eastern sky on the birth of Jesus Christ.
Great Conjunction visibility in India
In India, the conjunction can be watched between 06:30 pm-07:30 pm. Delhi's Nehru Planetarium has opened registrations for viewing the celestial phenomenon. To avoid crowding, the planetarium has started skywatching from December 20 and this will go on till December 22.
Webcasting will also be done on the Facebook and YouTube pages of the planetarium depending on weather conditions.