Google Doodle celebrates astronomical events – Winter Solstice, Great Conjunction

Google on Monday celebrated two astronomical events – the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the great conjunction with a doodle, in collaboration with NASA.

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. The phenomenon occurs when one of the earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun.

Here is the Google Doodle:

Google Doodle

What is Winter Solstice?

The word “solstice” originated from the Latin solstitium which means “sun stands still.”Twinter solstice occurs between December 19 and 23 in the Northern Hemisphere. This year it falls on December 21st.

After the Winter Solstice, the days get longer and the nights get shorter for the people in the Northern Hemisphere. The reverse phenomenon occurs for those from the southern hemisphere.

What is ‘Great Conjunction’?

Winter Solstice 2020 coincides with a rare astronomical event: the “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn.

Both the planets will be in a rare planetary alignment by Monday evening and they will appear closer together in the evening sky. This event is taking place in nearly 800 years and won’t occur until 2080.

'Great conjunction' of Jupiter and Saturn
 (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Google Doodle shows the Great Conjunction, where Saturn and Jupiter meet for a quick high-five, and the Winter Solstice as a literally “snow-capped” earth watching the other two planets.

According to NASA, “the two planets will appear just a tenth of a degree apart” and such an event will not happen again in the next 60 years, that is, until 2080.

The celestial show is set to take place after nearly 400 years “since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night,” says the NASA.