Saturn and Jupiter to align to form ‘Christmas Star’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On December 21, we are in store to see something rare in the night sky. Saturn and Jupiter are expected to align within their orbits to form a beautiful, bright star.

A RARE EVENT

This is known as a great conjunction and it only happens every 20 years. But viewing isn’t always this anticipated as the degree of separation between Saturn and Jupiter is only 0.1°! The last time the two have been this close was nearly 400 years ago.

Both Saturn and Jupiter shine brighter than other stars, so it will be easily noticeable even in the nights leading up to December 21. You will notice their brightness and steady shine unlike the twinkling stars around them. On December 21, the planets will appear as one enlarged, bright star.

HOW AND WHEN TO VIEW

To view the great conjunction, a small telescope or pair of binoculars will enhance the view, but the naked eye should be able to see the event. Thankfully, the Mid-South is trending clear for the night of December 21 to help increase visibility chances.

The best time to view it will be just after sunset at 4:52 PM and before the planets set. It’s only a brief window of 1-2 hours so aim for 6 PM on December 21. Try to have a clear view of the southwestern sky as the planets will be very low in the sky.

THE CHRISTMAS STAR You might have heard this event referred to as the “Christmas Star” of 2020. This is because some scholars believe that the Star of Bethlehem written of in the Bible was a rare triple conjunction between Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus. This star is said to have led the Three Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

Regardless, the great conjunction of 2020 will be a spectacular site to see in the days leading up to Christmas! Stay up to date on the forecast with the FOX13 Weather App.