December 20th, 2020, 5:00 p.m. local time
Assuming no more cosmological events of note for 2020, I found the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn to be not all that great.
I have been anticipating this time for over a year, thinking about it last September when I first took this image of Jupiter and Saturn coming together. In hindsight, I am not sure exactly what I expected from a planetary alignment that is both predictable and happening purely by chance right now.
Weather may have played a role in my disappointment, as there was a slight overcast and haze. I had difficulty focusing my digital camera on tripod, even when targeting the nearby crescent Moon, due to the hazy dusk conditions. And I knew from past experiences that the view from my telescopes would have been too blurry to be worth the effort in near-freezing conditions (since the planets were so low in the sky).
But I did capture the two planets unremarkably, as you can see in the corresponding image. You probably will have to expand the image to see faint Saturn.
Yet if I can take one figurative observation from last night, it is this: after seeing the two planets together, it’s not hard to imagine how such an alignment, embellished by background stars or other phenomena, could have been interpreted as a divine sign by the ancients.