Are we about to witness the Star of Bethlehem this Christmas week?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - An enormous celestial event is taking place right now with the peak occurring Monday evening shortly after sunset. Jupiter and Saturn will be virtually “touching” each other and hovering at a closer point than we have seen in almost 400 years!
In fact, a lot is happening Monday, including the Winter Solstice at 5:02 a.m.
But I digress. Here is how you can see this amazing moment.
In the attached pictures, you will see the clock in the upper right. Notice it is set for December 21st at 17:46, which is 5:46 p.m.
Start looking any time after the sun sets at 5:15 p.m. low in the southwestern sky. You’ll need a low horizon, so tall trees and houses around you will be a problem.
Picture 1 shows you about what you will see with the naked eye.
Picture 2 shows you about what you will see with a pair of binoculars.
Picture 3 shows you about what you will see with a good telescope.
I have also attached three pictures that were already captured by Todd Bush, courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. These were taken Friday evening, but they will be even closer together Monday night, and yes, we expect the clouds to clear for us.
They will start separating little by little every day this upcoming Christmas week, but it will still be fun to see. The next time we come close to seeing this again won’t be until 2040, so don’t miss it. Although it looks like they are right next to each other, in fact, Saturn is 450 million miles behind Jupiter and Jupiter is 550 million miles from the earth!
In terms of the Star of Bethlehem, many theories abound as to what might have taken place way back then.
Yes, some theories do indeed account for a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction. Other theories include conjunctions between other planets while other theories suggest it was a supernova (exploding star). So that is one question I can’t answer here, but the timing of this during Christmas week sure does stir the curiosity again!
Finally, I attached an animation showing the clouds clearing out in time for the conjunction occurring shortly after sunset Monday. In this case 5pm = 22z.
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