Hooray. Only a few more sleeps till Winter Solstice. To me, this time of year feels dense and syrupy. Inbetween decanting herbal elixirs and watching Star Trek, I’m dreaming about curling up in a hibernation pod (with an endless supply of hot beverage, Valrhona and good fiction), or migrating south for sun and star-gazing.
Back in Africa, we went on school camps to local nature reserves where we’d huddle around open pit fires at night for warmth, conversation and to keep away wild beasties like jackals and hyaenas!
The night sky in the bush is special. It’s pitch black velvet, studded with stars. Not the bruised purple hues of a city or street-lit town. Yes sadly even rural Kingsbridge has the plague of streetlamps burning through most of the night.
Another night sky without light pollution is the Jordan desert. In December 2005 I gasped at the infinity of stars… before crawling back into the Bedoiun camel hair tent to sleep. That was probably the best star-gazing ever – why? No hyaenas!
Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
Anyway this year, we’re in for a once in a lifetime treat… Jupiter and Saturn are going to appear snuggled up together and will create what is termed the Christmas Star. (The techno term is Grand Conjunction.)
Jupiter and Saturn – images from NASA and Paul Fellows
To celebrate the Grand Conjunction, I will of course be making something special. Because my hands need a treat, I will make a celebratory version of the Prebiotic Hand Cream during the Solstice-Christmas Star event to infuse it with all the special properties of Jupiter and Saturn. So a truly once in a lifetime edition. Yay.
You can pre-order yours here.
Jupiter and Saturn
The last time humans were able to observe them so close together was 4th March 1226. So yes it’s a big deal. And you don’t even have to have a telescope or binoculars to enjoy them.
Image from Paul Fellows
How to spot them?
It’s viewed in the southwestern sky just after sunset.. and won’t last long so start practicing spotting tonight… both planets will be sinking towards the horizon. A tip is to find a clear view of the horizon without trees or houses in the way.
I’ll be watching from the balcony outside our sitting room. We’re on top of a hill overlooking the estuary, so get a bird’s eye view. (Please let it be dry tonight – we’ve had 3 days of Noah’s Ark style rain.)
Another tip – to look for the skinny crescent moon – and find the two bright objects next to it. Bingo.
So good luck to you in your viewing! Let me know if you spot them..