Christmas Star to light up night sky for 1st time in 800 yrs

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Christmas Star to light up night sky for 1st time in 800 yrs

Postby oneh2obabe » Dec 5th, 2020, 12:55 am

A sign of something good coming our way?

That’s right, during the upcoming winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn are lining up to create an incredibly bright star of wonder, or what is known as a the “Christmas Star” or “Star of Bethlehem.”

These two planets haven’t appeared this (relatively) close together from Earth’s vantage point since the Middle Ages.

“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,” Patrick Hartigan, astronomer at Rice University, told Forbes. “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.”

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 Dec. 21. However, reportedly sightings can be seen throughout that entire week.

According to Forbes, a star-sighting of this magnitude won’t occur again until 2080. ... 800-years/
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Re: Christmas Star to light up night sky for 1st time in 800

Postby Sonny Taylor » Dec 5th, 2020, 1:44 am

Been following this a bit. I hope the skies are clear around the time of conjunction, Jupiter spends much time in our night sky and is always impressive. To see it merge with Saturn's golden glow is a bonus.
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Re: Christmas Star to light up night sky for 1st time in 800

Postby JagXKR » Dec 5th, 2020, 3:31 am

The separation at their closest will be 6 arc minutes. That is equal to 0.1 degrees.
For reference the moon is about 30 arc seconds or 0.5 degrees wide.
So, Jupiter and Saturn will be aprx 1/5th the width of the moon from each other.
But one also has to consider the magnitude of each planet.
Jupiter will be -1.8 and Saturn +0.6 which is very noticeable when they are this close.

Dec 16 and 17 will also have them close to the crescent moon.
Hoping for a few clear evenings. :up:
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Re: Christmas Star to light up night sky for 1st time in 800

Postby Jlabute » Dec 21st, 2020, 2:25 pm

Here are some interesting facts about this particular syzygy:

"Some have suggested this holiday season that these two planets might be a replica of the legendary Star of Bethlehem. Actually, one of the more popular theories for the "Christmas Star" was a series of conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC. For in that year Jupiter and Saturn met not once but three times that year (in May, September, and December).

The first conjunction (on May 29 — visible "in the east" before sunrise) presumably started the Magi on their way to Bethlehem from the Far East. The middle conjunction (September 30) may have strengthened their resolve in the purpose of their journey, while the third and final conjunction (Dec. 5) occurred just as they arrived in Judea to meet with King Herod, who sent them on to Bethlehem to "go and search diligently for the young child." "
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