See great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn from Yeal observatory

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Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory guides Hayden Crisp and Stuart Broadley take visitors on a tour of the centre in Yeal in the Shire of Gingin. Picture: Anita McInnes

IF you have only ever paid passing interest in the night sky then a visit to the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory one evening in the next couple of months will allow you to see a great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which only happens about every 20 years.

Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory chief executive officer Jan Devlin said even if you visit the observatory in October you will be able to see Jupiter and Saturn lining up.

She said a conjunction was when two planets share the same right ascension in the sky.

“In this case because it is Jupiter and Saturn it is technically a great conjunction and the date is December 21, 2020,’’ she said.

She said the astronomers have not talked about the conjunction as such because the planets are basically lined up now but they will point it out around that date.

Also at the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory, which is in Yeal in the Shire of Gingin, you can hear head astronomer Rick Tonello talk about light pollution and how to minimise it so people can continue to see the wonder of the night sky.

Through a telescope you can also see Mars known as the red planet because the surface material contains a high concentration of iron oxide similar to the red dirt of Western Australia.

You can also hear more about the parasitic Christmas tree (Nuytsia floribunda) which the Aborigines in the area – the Yued people – called moodja.

“The Christmas tree at the back of the GDC has a piece cut out of it, that was used to make an Aboriginal shield,’’ she said.