I saw the Christmas star on Dec. 21! Did you see it? Did you know what it was? Bear Essential gave Young Reporters the opportunity to interview Steve Kortenkamp, an astronomer at the University of Arizona.
He said that the conjunction happened because Saturn and Jupiter aligned by orbiting the sun and eventually lining up. The moon and the Earth do the same and that is called an eclipse. Some are solar eclipses while others are lunar eclipses. The next time that a nice solar eclipse will happen in Arizona will be in 2024.
Kortenkamp has been an astronomer for 25 years. He says that the experience that got him interested in astronomy was when he was young. His little brother had a telescope and he showed him Saturn. Fun Fact: He says that Saturn is double times as far away from Earth as Jupiter is!
When asked what his favorite planet is, Kortenkamp didn’t hesitate to say that it used to be Pluto. But since that’s out the door now, he says that his new favorite is Venus.
Kortenkamp says that if you see the moon and say, “Hey, that’s a really big moon tonight,” you can stretch out you arm as far as it will go and put your pinky fingernail up to moon—it will look smaller!
His advice for those who want to improve in science is to find something that you really like—he latched onto astronomy when he was young, which really helped him.
If you missed this year’s event, the Great Conjunction will happen again in 2040, and Saturn and Jupiter will be even closer in 2080.
Photo Credit: Google