Star crossing planets: The incredibly rare ‘Christmas star’ appears for the first time in 800 years

Star crossing planets: The incredibly rare 'Christmas star' appears for the first time in 800 years

Atlanta (CNN) – The two largest planets in our solar system are getting closer than they were in the Middle Ages, and this is happening at Christmas.

So, there are some things to look forward to in the final month of 2020.

On the night of December 21st, the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will be very close together in our sky, they will look like twin planets. This intimate approach Called a link.

“Alignments between these two planets are very rare, occurring once every 20 years, but this connection is exceptional because of how close the planets appear to each other,” said Patrick Hardigan, an astronomer and professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University. In a statement.

“At the dawn of March 4, 1226, you must return to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”

If you are a Stargazer, you may have noticed Jupiter and Saturn approaching from summer. They are currently visible in our night sky and are close to each other.

But from Dec. 16 to 25, they will become even more convenient. Look for the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the western sky about an hour after sunset every evening during this time.

“On the evening of the close approach on December 21 they will be like twin planets, separated by only 1/5 of the diameter of the full moon,” Hardigan said. “For most telescope viewers, each planet and their many major moons are visible in the same view that evening.”

Although the two planets appear to be close, NASA says they are still hundreds of millions of miles away.

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CST, December 21, 2020 At 6 pm, a view showing how the Jupiter-Saturn fusion appears in a telescope pointing toward the western horizon. Image adapted by Open Source Planet Software Stellarium Graphics. (This work, “Jubsat 1”, is adapted from Patrick Hardigan from Stellarium and is used under GPL-2.0, and is available on CC.

Hope for clear skies, because those close to the equator with a better perspective, the world will know this connection.

“An observer is still north and can see the time when the planets merged before sinking below the horizon.” Hardigan said.

The planets will be bright enough to be seen at dusk, which may be the best time for many American viewers to notice the merger.

“When the sky is completely dark in Houston, this connection will be 9 degrees above the horizon,” Hardigan said. “If the weather cooperates, it will manage to see if there is unobstructed view of the southwest.”

If you are in New York or London, or in those latitudes, try to find the link after sunset. Waiting an hour for the sun to set will keep the planets close to the horizon and make them very difficult to find.

Hardigan said the best conditions for viewing this astronomical event were not having a clear southwest horizon and low clouds in the distance. Telescopes or telescopes can help distinguish planets. He said a telescope would help see Saturn’s rings and the bright moons of both planets.

If you miss this link and want to see the planets in close proximity, if the sky is a little higher, it will not happen until March 15, 2080 – then not again after 2400.

Between 0 and 3000 AD, or in the Common Era, only seven connections were closer than this – or two of them were so close to the sun that Hardigan says it could not be seen without a telescope. So, yes, this is an incredibly rare event.

The-CNN-Wire © & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.

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