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Great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn captured in stunning photos from around the world – CBS News



Jupiter and Saturn, our solar system’s two largest planets, were visibly closer together on Monday night than they have been in 800 years — marking an extremely rare celestial event known as the “great conjunction.” 

The conjunction occurs when the orbits of the two planets align every 20 years, but the event is not always visible, and the planets do not typically come as close together as they did on December 21. 

This time around, Jupiter and Saturn were just 0.1 degrees apart — less than the diameter of a full moon. 

The planets were so close, they appeared, from some perspectives, to overlap completely, creating a rare “double planet” effect. However, while the planets appeared from Earth to be very, very close, in reality, they are still hundreds of millions of miles apart.

The event happened to coincide with the winter solstice and the week of Christmas, but it can occur during any time of year. 

If you missed the spectacle, or if your sky appeared cloudy Monday night, don’t worry — the planets will still appear extremely close together in the night sky for the next several weeks, and dedicated astrophotographers are sharing their best shots of the night on social media. 

Santa Barbara, California

Jupiter (L) and Saturn appear about one-tenth of a degree apart on December 21, 2020, in Santa Barbara, California.

Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images

Los Angeles, California

Planets Jupiter (L) and Saturn are seen from the Griffith Observatory on December 21, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Melbourne, Australia 


Jupiter and Saturn are visible ahead of the great conjunction, over an erupting volcano in Guatemala. 

Francisco Sojuel / NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

New York City, New York

Crescent Moon Sets Behind the Statue of Liberty in New York City
Saturn and Jupiter set behind the Statue of Liberty ahead of their conjunction, on December 17, 2020, in New York City.

Gary Hershorn / Getty Images


Alborz Mountains, Iran

A photographer captures a triple conjunction of the moon, Jupiter and Saturn from the Alborz Mountains in Iran, after sunset on December 17, 2020, ahead of the great conjunction.

Alireza Vafa / NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Koh Chang, Thailand

The Milky Way with Saturn and Jupiter, viewed from Koh Chang, Thailand.

Chakarin Wattanamongkol/Getty Images

Brill, England

Jupiter and Saturn Come Together In The Night Sky For The Great Conjunction
Jupiter and Saturn are seen coming together in the night sky, over the sails of Brill windmill, on December 20, 2020, in Brill, England. 

Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Kuwait City, Kuwait 

A picture taken on December 21, 2020, in al-Salmi district, a desert area 120 km west of Kuwait City, shows the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.


How to watch the great conjunction

The great conjunction shines bright shortly after sunset, low in the southwestern sky, as viewed from the Northern hemisphere, NASA said.

Through the entirety of December and the beginning of January, skywatchers can easily spot the two planets with the naked eye. They are so bright, they are even visible from most cities.

Jupiter currently appears brighter than any star in the sky. Saturn is slightly dimmer, but still just as bright as the brightest stars, with a recognizable golden glow.

Saturn will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter, and even looks as close to the planet as some of its own moons, visible with binoculars or a telescope. Unlike stars, which twinkle, both planets will hold consistent brightness, easy to find on clear nights.

The event is observable from anywhere on Earth, provided the sky is clear. It is easiest to spot along the equator, becoming more difficult to see further north.

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Hearing the dead person? Here’s what research says – Tech Explorist



Why some people and not others say they receive communications from ‘the dead’?

This is horrifying. Right?

But why this happens?

A new study by Durham University explains the reason. The study found that spiritualist mediums might be more prone to immersive mental activities and unusual auditory experiences early in life.

Spiritualism is a religious movement dependent on the possibility that human spirits keep on existing after death and speak with the living through a medium or psychic.

A medium that hears the dead person is believed to be experiencing clairaudient communications instead of clairvoyant (“seeing”) or clairsentient (“feeling” or “sensing”) communications.

The study involved 65 clairaudient spiritualist mediums from the Spiritualists’ National Union and 143 members of the general population.

Spiritualist mediums completed an online questionnaire assessing the timing, nature, and frequency of their auditory (clairaudient) spiritual communications – including scales measuring paranormal beliefs, absorption, hallucination-proneness, and aspects identity. These measures were compared to a general population group.

They found that these spiritualists have a strong leaning towards absorption – a trait linked to immersion in mental or imaginative activities and altered states of consciousness.

Eighteen percent revealed having clairaudient experiences ‘for as far back as they could recall’, and 71 percent had not experienced Spiritualism as a religious movement preceding their first experience.

Numerous who experience hearing dead voices experience spiritualist beliefs while looking for the meaning behind, or heavenly significance of, their own and unusual experiences.

Spiritualists tend to report unusual auditory experiences that are positive, start early in life and are often then able to control.

Understanding how these develop is important in helping us learn more about distressing or non-controllable experiences of hearing voices and how to support those whose voices are linked to psychosis or other mental health problems.

Journal Reference:
  1. Adam Powell et al. When spirits speak: absorption, attribution, and identity among spiritualists who report “clairaudient” voice experiences. DOI: 10.1080/13674676.2020.1793310

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Three more COVID-19 cases at GRT –



Grand River Transit is confirming three more COVID cases.

All the affected employees are bus drivers.

Two of them last worked on January 15, while the third was last on the job on Jan. 11.

GRT points out all three are now self-isolating at home.

So far in Janaury, nine employees have tested positive for the virus.

Grand River Transit lists COVID-19 cases on its website for transparency purposes, but some details are not released due to privacy concerns.

Since the on-set of the pandemic, multiple safety precautions have been put in place to protect drivers and riders, including barriers and mandatory masks.

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Microplastics could be eliminated from wastewater at source – E&T Magazine



A team of researchers from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Quebec, Canada, have developed an electrolytic process for treating wastewater, degrading microplastics at the source.

Microplastics are fragments of plastic less than 5mm long, often contained in toiletries or shedding from polyester clothing. They are present in virtually every corner of the Earth, and pose a particularly serious threat to marine ecosystems. High concentrations of microplastics can be carried into the environment in wastewater.

There are no established degradation methods to handle microplastics during wastewater treatment; although some techniques exist, these involve physical separation as a means of filtering the pollutant. These techniques do not degrade microplastics, which requires additional work to manage the separated fragments. So far, research into degradation of microplastics has been very limited.

The INRS researchers, led by water treatment expert Professor Patrick Drogui, decided to try degrading plastic particles through electrolytic oxidation – a process that does not require the addition of chemicals.

“Using electrodes, we generate hydroxyl radicals to attack microplastics,” Drogui said. “This process is environmentally friendly because it breaks them down into CO2 and water molecules, which are non-toxic to the ecosystem.”

Drogui and his colleagues experimented with different anode materials and other parameters such as current intensity, anode surface, electrolyte type, electrolyte concentration and reaction time. They found that the electrolytic oxidation could degrade more than 58 ± 21 per cent of microplastics in one hour. The microplastics appeared to degrade directly into gas rather than breaking into smaller particles.

Lab-based tests on water artificially contaminated with fragments of polystyrene showed a degradation efficiency as high as 89 per cent.

“This work demonstrated that [electrolytic oxidation] is a promising process for degradation of microplastics in water without production of any waste or by-products,” the researchers wrote in their Environmental Pollution report.

Drogui envisions this technology being used to treat microplastic-rich wastewater emerging from sources such as commercial laundries.

“When this commercial laundry water arrives at the wastewater treatment plant, it is mixed with large quantities of water, the pollutants are diluted and therefore more difficult to degrade,” he explained. “Conversely, by acting at the source, i.e. at the laundry, the concentration of microplastics is higher, thus more accessible for electrolytic degradation.”

Next, the researchers will move on to experimenting with degrading microplastics on water outside the artificial laboratory environment. Real commercial laundry water contains other materials that can affect the degradation process, such as carbonates and phosphates, which can trap radicals and limit degradation. If the technology is effective under these circumstances, the researchers plan to conduct a study to determine the cost of scaling up this treatment to implement in laundries.

Last week, researchers from the University of Barcelona published a study suggesting that encouraging a greater proliferation of seagrass meadows in the shallows of oceans could help trap, extract and carry marine plastic debris to shore.

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