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The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn — in case, like me, you missed it

Like many people living in the Northern Hemisphere, the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in late December 2020 was hidden behind a mass of boring cloud. The only view of the event I got to see was a secondhand blurry image made available on Wikipedia by user KSPFanatic102 under a Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license.

I got to wondering what the conjunction on the winter solstice would have looked like if I had been able to see it through a really powerful instrument, like the NASA Hubble Space Telescope. Maybe I could create some sort of mosaic image based on other higher-resolution images?

It turns out that there are many high resolution images of the individual planets and their moons in the public domain. Using the original image as a template, I set about replacing each blurred planet and moon with an appropriately rotated, scaled down, de-saturated, high-resolution image, lightened or darkened to match the planet or moon’s correct albedo.

As the actual conjunction occurred in Sagittarius, I took the liberty of adding a faint but appropriate starry background. The resulting image is, I believe, as close as possible to what you would have seen if it was possible to “look through” as powerful a scope as the Hubble in orbit:

The 2020 Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, ultra high resolution astronomy mosaic.

In the composite image we see Jupiter bottom right with, from right to left, its moons Europa, Io, and Ganymede. Top left we see Saturn with, above it, its moon Titan. In close-up you can see the planets and moons in high-resolution:

Close up Jupiter with Io and Ganymede during the Great Conjunction 2020.

Astronomy is a deep passion of mine and I love to contribute to its great body of knowledge in anyway I can. If anyone is interested, I have made this image is available as a poster, a print, and in various other forms in my Redbubble shop.

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