The Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter Overview
Back in July I chased down the Neowise Comet in San Diego and I took some decent pictures.
This week there was the great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, according to NASA:
What makes this year’s spectacle so rare, then? It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction.”
My Fiancé and I drove out to Anza Borrego Fonts point to go stargazing and attempt to take a gaze at what people are calling the Christmas Star this year.
Directions to Fonts Point Anza Borrego
The drive out to Fonts Point in Anza Borrego is a 4 mile drive through the desert, and some pretty deep sand at some points. On our drive out there, we saw a handful of cars that probably shouldn't be out there, and I would recommend a high clearance 4x4 vehicle. The drive isn't to technical with lots of rocks but it is pretty open desert without signs and the deep sand. Be prepared to not get stuck in deep sand especially if driving out at night like we did to go star gazing at Fonts point.
Pro Tip: Off Road Recovery Gear Recommendations
While off-roading make sure you fully prepared for self recovery. Here are two items I recommend:
- Hi-Lift Jack (Amazon Affiliate): Helps if you get a flat while off-roading and can also be used as a mechanical winch. I have also used this to get out of snow and off rocks where I was center pinned.
- Traction Mats (Amazon Affiliate): Helps in muddy or slippery terrain where your tires cant get enough traction.
- Portable Battery Jump Starter (Amazon Affiliate): If your car battery dies while off-roading there may not be anyone around to jump start your battery. Use a portable jumper to be able to jump start your battery without anyone else around.
For more expert gear recommendations check out the Ten Digit Grid Gear Locker.
You can find the turn off for Fonts Point on Google maps here. Below is a map of the 4 mile drive out to Fonts Point:
You can view and download the Fonts Point Anza Borrego Caltopo map here.
We drove out as the sun was going down and it was pretty spectacular, driving through the desert racing the darkness! When we got to Fonts Point there were already a handful of people there all ready to look to the sky!
Gazing at the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter
First off if you can get to Fonts Point for Sunset, I highly recommend it. I have been to Anza Borrego plenty of times for other trips but never to Fonts Point. I am usually way out in the desert doing some dispersed camping but camping was not allowed on this trip due to current COVID-19 restrictions. Despite having explored a lot of the beautiful Anza Borrego State Park, I was blown away at the view from Fonts Point! We arrived just after the sun was about to disappear so we caught a glimpse of the beautiful desert below before it started getting too dark.
The Great Conjunction was so bright though we were able to start seeing it before the sky became pitch black. Before we could see any stars in the sky, it was easy to spot Saturn and Jupiter right next to each other!
As the sun set behind Borrego Springs, the bright spot of Saturn and Jupiter continued to become more and more visible. Then night was so clear we could clearly make out the two distinct planets with the naked eye!
The crazy bright spot in the picture above is the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter!
Unfortunately I don't own any super zoom lenses for my camera yet (Next purchase!), but I did take a picture with an 85mm Prime where you can clearly see the two distinct planets, Saturn and Jupiter:
Stargazing at Fonts Point Wrap Up
Overall the drive out to Anza Borrego on the shortest day of the year to view the Great Conjunction was absolutely worth it! There was about a half moon on this night, so we couldn't quite make out the milky way to much, but I will definitely be driving back out to Fonts Point to go stargazing in the future! If you have a 4x4 vehicle and can navigate the drive through the desert safely, I highly recommend Fonts Point Anza Borrego for star gazing!
Merry Christmas everyone!