2020 was a difficult year for a lot of people, however, as it comes to a close, the solar system has decided to grace us with a cosmic Christmas miracle that hasn’t been witnessed in nearly 800 years.
On December 21, during the upcoming winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will line up to create what is known as the “Christmas Star” or “Star of Bethlehem.”
The event sometimes referred to as The Great Conjunction, occurs roughly every 19 to 20 years, however, for the uninformed, these two planets haven’t appeared this (relatively) close together from Earth’s vantage point since the Middle Ages.
Speaking about the same, Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University, told Forbes, “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,” he added.
According to Forbes, a star-sighting of this magnitude won’t occur next again until the year 2080.
Stargazers in the northern hemisphere should turn their heads and telescopes to the southwest portion of the sky about 45 minutes after sunset to see the planets align on December 21.
In reality, of course, the two planets won’t be close at all. Jupiter is 5 au from Earth. Saturn is 10 au, but they will appear to be less than the diameter of a full moon apart.