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.
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.
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