2020 Will End With a Rare Christmas Star, First Time in 800 Years
You have to admit, 2020 is like nothing we have seen before, in fact, the year won't end until another rare phenomenon happens.
COVID-19, lockdowns, civil unrest, riots, murder hornets, all part of this strange year. Well it ain't over yet. Before the calendar changes to 2021, the solar system will grace us with what they are calling a cosmic Christmas miracle.
On December 21, the day of the winter solstice, two planets, Jupiter and Saturn will align closer than they have in almost 800 years. That alignment will produce the illusion that the two stars have collided, and will create a point of light that has been referred to as the Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas Star.
Now in reality, the two stars will not be that close at all, only a few million miles apart, but from our vantage point on Earth, the two will look like they are together and produce one bright point of light.
So how rare is this occurrence? Well, let's put it this way. It's not something you see everyday, in fact, it's very rare. Here's what Rice University astronomer, Patrick Hartigan, told forbes.com:
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. You'd have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.
So what's the best way to view this celestial event? Well first off you have to look up, and look to the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset. Though the planets will be the closest on December 21, the star will be visible for that entire week, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
I know I'm going to look at this as a sign of better things to come in the new year, because face it, 2020 has left a lot to be desired.
If you forget to look , or it's too cloudy for viewing, the next Great Conjunction won't be visible again until March 15, 2080.