Rare Christmas Star to appear December 21

Jupiter and Saturn will be in very close proximity on December 21, the winter solstice, in a conjunction dubbed the “Christmas Star” or “Star of Bethlehem” because of the brightness and closeness to Christmas.

If you gaze into the southwest horizon at sunset you should be able to see them.

The alignment occurs every 20 years, but this event is rare due to how close they will be together. They’ll be only 0.1 degrees apart. That’s just 1/5 of a full moon diameter.

This Jupiter-Saturn conjunction has not occurred since 1623, and at that time it was not visible to the naked eye. The last time it was visible was March 4, 1226.

If you want to check it out and gaze upward, you will be looking for two points of light. Saturn will be the fainter light. Northern latitudes will have a more difficult time seeing the conjunction between dusk and up to an hour after sunset.

The maximum point of conjunction will be at 12:20 p.m. and it will not be visible in the daytime.

You should be able to see it without a telescope if nothing is blocking your view.

This event should be visible from December 16-25.

The conjunction will not happen again until March 15, 2080.

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