The last one happened almost 800 years ago.
A bright “Christmas star” will light up the nighttime sky beginning December 21 as Jupiter and Saturn align for the first time in around 800 years. This rare, once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon is definitely something to look forward to this year.
The official website of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tells us that Jupiter and Saturn have been slowly moving closer toward each other these past months and this will eventually cause quite a celestial spectacle for us to behold.
A post on the NASA site reads:
“Over the first three weeks of December, watch each evening as the two planets get closer in the sky than they’ve appeared in two decades. Look for them low in the southwest in the hour after sunset. And on December 21st, the two giant planets will appear just a tenth of a degree apart – that’s about the thickness of a dime held at arm’s length! This means the two planets and their moons will be visible in the same field of view through binoculars or a small telescope. In fact, Saturn will appear as close to Jupiter as some of Jupiter’s moons.”
The space agency, however, reminded that the two planets will only appear closer but they actualy remain far from each other.
“Keep in mind that while the two gas giants may appear close, in reality they are hundreds of millions of miles apart,” explained NASA. “This will still be quite a striking sight, but you will need to look fast as both planets will set shortly after sunset. Look above the western horizon after sunset for these bright, close planets- a clear view will help.”
Meanwhile, ABC 17 News reported that conjunctions of the two planets “typically happen every 20 or so years, however, one where these planets are this close only happen every 400 or so years, with the last two happening in 1623 and 1226.”
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