South Okanagan skies cleared in time for photographer to capture rare celestial event | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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South Okanagan skies cleared in time for photographer to capture rare celestial event

South Okanagan resident and astronomer Debra Ceravolo took this shot of the Great Conjunction of 2020 Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 after skies cleared following Monday's snowfall. Jupiter's moons are visible in the image, while Saturn (on the right) appears oval shaped due to its rings.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Debra Ceravolo
December 23, 2020 - 3:30 PM

Debra Ceravolo has been scrutinizing the South Okanagan night skies this past week in anticipation of viewing the Christmas Star or Great Conjunction of 2020.

Ceravolo and her husband are avid astronomers who enjoy viewing the night skies from their Anarchist Mountain residence in the South Okanagan.

While the weather didn’t cooperate on the evening of Dec. 21, the night when Saturn and Jupiter appeared at their closest, she was nonetheless rewarded for some late nights with two spectacular photos taken on the evening before and the evening after the conjunction.

This photo shows the Saturn and Jupiter as they appeared from Anarchist Mountain near Penticton Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.
This photo shows the Saturn and Jupiter as they appeared from Anarchist Mountain near Penticton Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Debra Ceravolo

This was the first time a conjunction of this magnitude has been visible on Earth in 800 years.

Ceravolo says the image from Dec. 22 was a little ‘noisy’ due to darkness and the need to push a high ISO on her camera setting.

She originally thought the clearing skies of Dec. 20 would be her only opportunity to catch a photo of the event, but the evening sky cleared up again on Dec. 22, allowing her an additional photo opportunity.

“Those are Jupiter’s moons you see near the planet and Saturn is on the right. It appears oval shaped due to the rings. The two planets are now moving away from each other every night,” Ceravolo says.

The planets are visible in the western sky, but viewing for valley residents might be difficult due to their position near the horizon.

“Basically these two planets are getting closer to the sun, so when the sun sets, that’s when you just start to see them. Then they are going to set, about an hour and a half after the sun sets. You can only see them for about an hour and half in the west,” Cervolo says.


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