“The Christmas Star” Returns After Nearly 800 Years
We know 2020 has been a really disappointing and scary year overall, but thanks to the Solar System, there's something that we have to look forward to!
December 21st marks the day of the Winter Solstice, but it's also the day that Jupiter and Saturn will align so closely in the night sky that they'll almost appear to collide from Earth. The "collision" creates a bright light often referred to as the "Star of Bethlehem" or "The Christmas Star."
“Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to be to one another,” said Patrick Hartigan, astronomer at Rice University to Forbes.
To catch a glimpse of astronomy for yourself, make sure you have a clear view to the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset. The planets will be at their closest on Dec. 21, but the "Christmas Star" will be visible from anywhere on Earth for about one hour after sunset in the northern hemisphere for the entire fourth week of December.
If you're viewing with a telescope, you may also be able to see Jupiter and Saturn's largest moons orbiting them that week.
If you miss it - well, that's unfortunate for you. You won't be able to see it happen again until March 15, 2080. Make sure to set a calendar reminder in your phone and set an alarm so you'll be able to see it for yourself.
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