At the end of the year, two great heavenly events take place, beginning on Monday (14), the day of the visible solar eclipse in Brazil, and culminating on the 21st with a rare encounter between Jupiter and Saturn that makes them appear practically a single star – something that has not been seen in heaven in 800 years.
Starting with the solar eclipse that occurs when the moon moves in front of the sun, as seen here on earth. The natural satellite covers the solar disk only in a narrow strip that crosses Chile and Argentina. But in Brazil the moon will take a bite off the sun.
The size of the “bite” depends on the region you are in. The further down the map, the better. For those who are further north, the moon doesn’t even pass before the sun. In the city of São Paulo, the event runs from 12:45 to 3:16 pm, with the maximum at 2:04 pm. At this point, about 31% of the sun’s disk will be covered by the moon. In Porto Alegre, the summit arrives earlier at 1:50 p.m. and more than half of the sun (54%) will be covered.
Observing a solar eclipse requires care as you cannot look directly at the sun – it can injure your eyes. A simpler method is to drill a small hole in a cardboard box or piece of cardboard and use it to project an image of the sun onto a wall.
Alternatively, you can use a welding glass (# 14) that can filter out harmful solar radiation for worry-free observation. Do not improvise with sunglasses or materials that you do not know are safe to use.
After the eclipse, our gaze turns to the night sky as Jupiter and Saturn get closer day by day until they seem practically one on the night of the 21st, only a tenth of a degree apart.
While Earth, Jupiter and Saturn rotate in the sun’s carousel, there is sometimes an alignment in which the two planets appear to be close to each other in our sky. This happens like clockwork every 19.6 years. But not all conjunctions are so spectacular.
The last to have such an approach was in 1623, but at the time the event was focused on the Sun’s own position and prevented its observation. A meeting of this magnitude, visible in the night sky, last took place in 1226! The next suit won’t be that long, but don’t hold your breath: 2080.
With all of this, there are people who call this great conjunction “poinsettia”. It is not absurd, as some astronomers believe that the myth of the “Star of Bethlehem” may have been inspired by such a connection, perhaps one between Venus and Jupiter (the two brightest planets in the sky) that dates back to 3 or 2 BC
To find the two planets, look for them in a southwesterly direction over the next few days, about an hour after dark, and culminate in the great connection of the 21. And regardless of the symbolism you want to give the event (humans) have this mania) it will be a beautiful sight to end this difficult year with the hope that more beautiful things will come in 2021.
This column is published in Folha Corrida on Mondays.
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