Jupiter and Saturn will come close enough to form first ‘double planet’ visible in nearly 800 years

In the complex dance of the solar system, two celestial bodies about to partner up.



a star filled sky with Gallery Arcturus in the background: Jupiter and Saturn have been appearing increasingly closer in the night sky, and they will appear to overlap as a “double planet” on Dec. 21.


Jupiter and Saturn have been appearing increasingly closer in the night sky, and they will appear to overlap as a “double planet” on Dec. 21.

Jupiter and Saturn often look far apart — two separate specks puncturing different parts of the night sky. But later this month, the two largest planets in the solar system will come so close to each other that they may appear to be overlapping, according to NASA, creating a kind of “double planet” that has not been visible since the Middle Ages.

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Skywatch: What’s happening in the heavens in December

The once-in-a-lifetime sight is the product of an astronomical event known as a “conjunction,” in which two objects line up with each other in the sky. When it involves Jupiter and Saturn catching up to each other, it’s sometimes called a “great conjunction.”

“You can actually see it with your own eye. It doesn’t have to be measured with sophisticated instruments,” Michael Brown, an astronomer at Monash University in Australia, told The Washington Post. “The two objects are appearing very close in the sky but ultimately they’re very far away from each other.”

While Jupiter and Saturn will be separated on Dec. 21 by 0.1 degrees, or less than a third of the moon’s width, the two planets will nonetheless remain separated by about 450 million miles in space, he said.

Emily Lakdawalla, a freelance space writer, said planetary orbits can be compared to a kind of running track, with the sun in the middle. If Jupiter is running in circles closer to the inside, Saturn is walking at a slower pace further out.

“Jupiter is lapping Saturn,” she said.

Given the pace of their orbits — Jupiter takes about 12 Earth years to circle the sun compared to Saturn’s 30 — the two actually align in their paths roughly every two decades.

But there’s a catch: Because each track has a slightly different tilt, very close conjunctions like the one set for later this month are rare. The last time Saturn and Jupiter were close enough to create a “double planet” seen from Earth was in March 1226, Brown said.

The two planets came equally close in 1623, but that phenomenon was impossible to see from Earth because of glare from the sun, he added. So the conjunction later this month will be an extraordinarily rare event.

Since the summer, Jupiter and Saturn have been getting closer to one another, often visible at dusk, low in the western sky. Right around the solstice, they may appear as one overlapping body above the horizon.

Luckily, the Earth will not need to await another eight centuries to view another “double planet.” Given the tilts of each orbit, the next conjunction will actually be visible in 2080, according to projections from Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan.

But for many, this year will mark their first and only opportunity to get

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Jupiter and Saturn to form ultra-rare ‘double planet’ this December

Winter solstice is around the corner and with it comes a rare and spectacular phenomenon in the night sky.

On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will align to form a “double planet,” an occurrence that hasn’t happened in nearly 800 years, according to Deborah Byrd and Bruce McClure with Earth Sky.

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You may have already noticed the sky seems a little brighter these last few weeks. That’s because from Nov. 16 to 21, the two planets started their journey bringing them some three degrees apart, according to Byrd and McClure.

From now until the day of the conjunction, “Jupiter will travel about 6 degrees and Saturn 3 degrees on the sky’s dome. That movement will mean that Jupiter bridges the 3-degree gap between itself and Saturn,” according to the Earth Sky authors, causing a “great conjunction” that won’t be matched again until March 15, 2080.

It’s the first meeting of the two planets since 2000, but the closest Jupiter-Saturn conjunction since 1623.


Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions are considered the rarest of “bright-planet conjunctions” due to their slow movements. “Saturn takes nearly 3o years to go around the sun full circle whereas Jupiter takes nearly 12 years,” according to the Earth Sky authors.

This movement, in turn, is what causes Jupiter to “catch up” to Saturn, making for a picturesque view from Earth.

While this year has been full of unprecedented events, the night skies have given us some pretty amazing views of unusual sightings. We’ve witnessed a rare blue moon on Halloween, Leonid meteor showers, and now the showstopper of them all: the “great conjunction.”

So grab your telescope or just step out into the night air from now until December 21 to witness the eye-catching event each night as Jupiter and Saturn shine brightly among the stars.

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Purdue University Global, Maricopa Community Colleges form partnership

INDIANAPOLIS — A partnership between Purdue University Global and the Maricopa Community Colleges will facilitate students’ transfer from Maricopa to Purdue Global.

Qualifying students will maximize, as much as possible, the application of their community college coursework and credits to their bachelor’s degree program, with guaranteed admission into Purdue Global and their preferred school of study.

“Purdue Global and the Maricopa Community Colleges are committed to providing greater educational opportunities and services for students transferring between institutions,” Purdue Global Chancellor Frank Dooley said. “This commitment strongly supports the concept of seamless transfer that embraces the principle that transfer students should not be required to repeat courses for learning they have already demonstrated and achieved.”

The maximum number of lower-division credits that can be accepted and applied to a bachelor’s degree at Purdue Global is 86 semester credits. This transfer credit limit will be the difference between total credits required for bachelor’s degree completion and university upper-division requirements. Furthermore, the majority of transfer pathways from Maricopa to Purdue Global will facilitate the application of at least 60 credits when students complete an associate degree and transfer to complete a complementary bachelor’s degree.

“The Maricopa Community Colleges are thrilled to begin this partnership with Purdue Global, which allows our students access to a quality education through an effortless transfer experience,” said Steven R. Gonzales, Maricopa Community Colleges interim chancellor. “Over a third of our students intend to transfer to a university after MCCCD, and through our partnerships with Purdue Global and other four-year universities, we can better serve students with options for continuing their journey in higher education.”

Purdue Global will provide materials, catalogs, and other information to Maricopa Community Colleges advisors to facilitate their understanding of university requirements and academic programs.

“We look forward to welcoming Maricopa students to the Purdue family,” Dooley said.

About Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers personalized online education tailored to the unique needs of adults who have work or life experience beyond the classroom, enabling them to develop essential academic and professional skills with the support and flexibility they need to achieve their career goals. It offers a hyper-tailored path for students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, based on their work experience, desired pace, military service, previous college credits and other considerations – no matter where they are in their life journey. Purdue Global serves nearly 35,000 students (as of October 2020), most of whom earn their degree online. It also operates several regional locations nationwide. Purdue Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with Purdue University’s flagship institution, a highly ranked public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue University also operates two regional campuses in Fort Wayne and Northwest, Indiana, as well as serving close to 6,000 science, engineering and technology students at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus. For more information, please visit purdueglobal.edu.

About the Maricopa Community Colleges

The Maricopa County Community College District includes 10

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U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Army Africa consolidate to form unified command

Nov. 23 (UPI) — U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Army Africa are now consolidated into a single command, an Army statement announced.

The new command will be referred to as U.S. Army Europe and Africa, or by its acronym USAREUR-AF, an official statement on Friday said. All units assigned to U.S. Army Africa will be reassigned to USAREUR-AF, led by a four-star general as commander.

The U.S. Army Africa/Southern European Task Force has been re-designated as the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, or SETAF-AF, and its two-star commanding general will also serve as USAREUR-AF’s deputy commanding general for Africa.

The statement noted that four-star Gen. Christopher Cavoli will command USAREUR-AF, while Maj. Gen. Andrew Rohling serve as SETAF-AF commander and USAREUR-AF deputy commander.

“This consolidation enhances global and regional readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy,” said Ryan D. McCarthy, Secretary of the Army. “The new structure will increase command and control effectiveness, flexibility and the capability to conduct large-scale, joint and multi-domain operations.”

The change will allow the combined command to more easily focus on strategic-level tasks in Europe and Africa.

The Army noted that the recently reactivated V Corps, with a forward deployed rotational unit in Poznan, Poland, “will be integral to the planning and synchronization of operations in Europe.”

The enlarged command will be headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, current base of U.S. Army Europe. While U.S. Army Africa is currently based in Vincenza, Italy, the statement did not specify if that headquarters will be moved.

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This Year’s Arctic Sea Ice Is Failing to Form, Raising a Huge ‘Red Flag’

Arctic sea ice isn’t freezing in October for the first time on record

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(Video by Africanews)

Arctic ice is seasonal. It melts down in the summer sun and relative warmth, then freezes back up when fall’s chill comes. Or at least, it should be that way. But right now it’s late October, and the ice in Siberia’s Laptav Sea still hasn’t refrozen. It’s the latest ice-free date the sea has seen in recorded history and is driving Arctic sea ice as a whole to its lowest point on record for this time of year.



a large body of water: RIP ice.


© Photo: Maja Hitij (Getty Images)
RIP ice.

The Laptav Sea is the Arctic’s main nursery of sea ice. Generally, ice that forms in the area drifts to other parts of the Arctic on offshore winds, helping to form ice packs in other bodies of water. This summer, though, there was a bizarre, extended heat wave in the Arctic Circle and other adjacent regions. That meant ice along the Siberian coast melted more quickly than usual, leaving large open areas of water.

“With these newly open waters, direct sunshine was able to warm up the ocean temperatures to more than 5 degrees Celsius above average,” Zachary Labe, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University, wrote in an email. “These warmer ocean waters are slowing the refreeze in the Siberian Arctic now in October.”



Look at that historic low.


© Graphic: Zachary Labe
Look at that historic low.

Current windy and wavy conditions are further also inhibiting ice formation. The lack of ice and resulting warm water could seriously mess with the sea’s lush ecosystems, wreaking havoc on fish and other organisms. Indigenous communities in the region will likely suffer, too, as they depend on sea ice for travel and cultural practices. The delay in ice formation has major implications for the rest of the Arctic, too, rendering ice all over the region more brittle.

“Since this year is observing such a late refreeze in the Laptev Sea, any sea ice that forms later this fall and winter will not have as much time to thicken,” Labe said. “Younger and thinner ice is more vulnerable for melting during the summer,” which means it could again disappear earlier than usual, leaving large pools of open water which absorb even more heat.”

The Laptav Sea isn’t the only region experiencing a delay in ice formation this fall. In another shocking illustration of the problem, ice in the Northwest Passage—the route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Arctic—melted down earlier than ever this year, leaving the passageway clear. And now, it’s also refreezing later than it ever has. In fact, the entire Arctic is currently seeing its lowest sea

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