Longest night of the year to feature spectacle as Jupiter and Saturn draw closest in centuries

The darkest day of the year will be brightened by the Great Conjunction of 2020 with two giant planets, Saturn and Jupiter, drawing closer together in the night sky – more than they have in centuries. 

Jupiter and Saturn will appear closest for stargazers on th night of December 20 and 21 – the longest night of the year. 

The last time these two planets came so close was in 1623, but the last time the pairing was so observable to the naked eye was in 1226, according to Earthsky

The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction was used to explain seismic political and historical changes.

According to Olomi, the little conjunction of 20 years indicate shifts in political winds and war while the great conjunction of over 240 years shift triplicity indicating the fall of empires, rise of new dynasties, and the coming of a world conqueror. The supreme conjunction of over 900 years foretells the start of the cycle all over again and a messiah or a prophet would appear.

“Every few hundred years, Jupiter and Saturn meet in a Great Conjunction,” tweeted Assistant Professor Middle East, Islamic, and Global South History Ali O Olomi.

Olomi said the cycle would represent the rise and fall of empires, the coming of messiahs, and foretells the apocalypse for the medieval Muslim astrologers.

“Jupiter and Saturn are the two slowest classical wandering stars of astrology. Many civilisations from the Babylonians to the Greeks associated them with world-changing events. But it would be the Persian Sassanians who would use their movements as unique time-periods.”

Citing scholars like Pingree, Olomi said the idea was picked up by medieval astrologers such as Ma’shallah, Abu Mas’shar, Ibn Hibinta, Al Qabisi, and others.

Olomi said the Great conjunction in Aquarius, similar to the one this month, came to “represent the collapse and fragmenting of the caliphate and was linked to the coming of the Mongols with several predictions from the time period raising alarms”

Olomi said the astrologers had warned the Great Conjunction in Aquarius would foretell:

The rise and fall of dynasties, old and corrupt rulers, corruption of wind [plague], turbulent transitions, coming of false messiahs, righteous religions, violence in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, violence and uprisings, and miraculous events.

Olomi said the “Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions became one of the more significant contributions to historical astrology and modern astrologers who talk about the great transits of the outer planets are often working in the modern descendent of an older theory”.

“And while a thousand years has passed from the era of the medieval astrologer, their anxieties still resonate with our apocalyptic fears and utopian hopes,” he added.