Monday, January 4, 2021

North Coast Night Lights: Conjunction - Saturn Overtakes Jupiter

Posted By on Mon, Jan 4, 2021 at 11:59 AM

Racing around the sun like slot cars on an elliptical track, Earth was on an inside line and coming around fast. Jupiter and Saturn were in view ahead. Jupiter was taking a much wider line and Saturn was lazily rounding the bend still farther out. Earth would overtake them. Again. The race has been on for billions of years, and Earth never tires of lapping her bigger sisters. This time it appeared she would lap them both at the same time and, for a moment Earth, Jupiter and Saturn would line up in cosmic formation.

click to enlarge The Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was … the day before and obscured by clouds. But the next evening was beautiful, and @morriganlynn and I celebrated the event in the moonlight with this image up on Bear River Ridge Road. Jupiter and Saturn are small on the horizon in front of her, almost touching each other. I could see that Saturn had finally overtaken and passed Jupiter and was now to Jupiter’s right. Humboldt County, California. Dec. 22, 2020. - PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
  • Photo by David Wilson
  • The Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was … the day before and obscured by clouds. But the next evening was beautiful, and @morriganlynn and I celebrated the event in the moonlight with this image up on Bear River Ridge Road. Jupiter and Saturn are small on the horizon in front of her, almost touching each other. I could see that Saturn had finally overtaken and passed Jupiter and was now to Jupiter’s right. Humboldt County, California. Dec. 22, 2020.

Or close enough. It is called a great conjunction when Jupiter and Saturn align closely as seen from Earth. This happens fairly frequently, about every 20 years. But rarely do the two great gas giants appear in such close proximity to each other as they did for us on Dec. 21, 2020: it had been almost 800 years since they last appeared this close together in the night sky. About 400 years ago, the two planets aligned this closely, but they were too near the sun to see. Chalk up something good for the year 2020.

For weeks I waited with the rest of the world for it to happen. Saturn had trailed Jupiter across the sky all season. At the great conjunction she would finally appear to overtake the larger planet. This time, the event would be on the winter solstice. Morrigan Crowl and I planned to do a shoot together to commemorate the rare event.

Instead it clouded over and then rained. Thank you, 2020. (But the comet back in July was great, I admit).

The next day, Dec. 22, 2020, the skies were beautiful. But in the slot car race of the planets, Earth had already lapped the gas giants, and now the smaller dot of Saturn was ahead of Jupiter. The solstice had passed as well. Yet still it was magnificent. So it was that out beneath a starry sky, in a world illuminated by the waxing moon, Morrigan and I created an image in homage to the rare winter solstice great conjunction.

To keep abreast of David Wilson’s (he/him) latest photography or purchase a print, visit www.mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx and on Twitter @davidwilson_mfx.


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About The Author

David Wilson

David Wilson

Bio:
David Wilson is a Humboldt-grown photographer. His longtime love is creating nighttime images and he enjoys finding and using unique light. David received his Art degree with an emphasis in photography from Humboldt State University. He currently teaches photography in the Art Department at College of the Redwoods... more

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