Winter Solstice Great Conjunction in UAE: Rare celestial show leaves stargazers spellbound

Dubai - The celestial spectacle made Jupiter and Saturn appear as one bright star in the night sky.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Mon 21 Dec 2020, 10:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Dec 2020, 11:03 PM

Stargazers in the UAE were in for a year-end treat on Monday evening as they looked up to the sky to see a rare celestial event that happened after hundreds of years.

December 21 is the night of the winter solstice and two of the largest planets in the solar system were seen emerging in the UAE sky wowing every beholder, which included residents and Bollywood celebrities.

The celestial spectacle made Jupiter and Saturn appear as one bright star in the night sky. Though the event was visible to the naked eye, those with a telescope enjoyed a better view.

Bolloywood superstar Nargis Fakhri, who is currently in Dubai, also made a beeline at the Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre to get a glimpse of the mesmerising sight.

She said: “It’s been an amazing experience here at the Al Thuraya Centre. I could not believe what I was looking at. I wish my eyeballs could take a picture. It was so cool. I found out so many new things about Jupiter and Saturn. It was brilliant. Today is a memorable day for me. I intend coming here again and taking some classes from the experts here.”

The place was abuzz with excitement and experts and spectators who gathered at Mushrif Park to watch the grand show, said the sight was jaw-dropping.

High on enthusiasm, excitement

Dr Hasan Al Hariri, CEO of Dubai Astronomy Group, said: “Today is a great conjunction. Jupiter and Saturn aligned to be seen in one field of view and this is a rare event which happens once in 20 years and today it was very close, this hasn’t happened since

Galileo Galilei's time…. since the invention of the telescope. Next it will happen in 2040.”

He added: “Almost 300 people came to our centre to view the great conjunction and they observed enthusiastically with their telescopes as well as naked eyes, trying to take photos. Tomorrow, we will facilitate the observation for people who could not capture it today.”

Sharing some fun facts, he said: “Some Christians think that Jesus Christ was born at the time of a similar conjunction, therefore it's often called the ‘Christmas Star’ and similarly Muslims think 'our Prophet was born when a similar kind of situation happened'. It’s basically two bright celestial objects creating one very bright object.”

Fatima Nezar, Sri Lankan expat, said: “I have come here because it’s an event that has occurred after hundreds of years. I am not into astronomy much but I came here to witness this conjunction. I am a very spiritual person so stars, planets and celestial objects interest me a lot.”

Children, who had geared up for the event, were excited and inquisitive.

Ahmed Dihyah, a Grade 3 student, pointed out: “When I came here, I was wondering if I would see one object or two. Here I was told that the alignment of the planets will not be in one line but at an angle. I was very curious and I enjoyed watching it with my sister.”

Mishal Faraz, a 14-year-old who watched the conjunction online, said: “It was an absolutely brilliant phenomenon that I watched online and was left awestruck. This was the most amazing thing that I have seen in my life… to see these gas giants in one frame. I consider myself lucky to be able to witness it as it’s a rare sight. I am glad that we have the technical advancements and the knowledge to be able to record such an outstanding celestial event.”

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