This incredibly rare “Christmas star” should appear over Devon in the coming days.
Exeter John McLean of the observatory, who is also a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, said thatbirthday The star ‘is a coupling between the two planets; Jupiter and Saturn, as they appear very close to each other, will appear as a single object at the beginning of the evening sky on December 21.
He said: “ This conjunction had not occurred since December 1623 although it was not visible due to its close proximity to the sun at that time.
“The last time that a“ great coupling ”took place was in 1226, so this year’s event is the“ first ”in 800 years.
This month’s conjunction will be at 1.30pm, and the interplanetary distance will be only 0.06 degrees in the southwest, so during daylight hours.
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If weather permits, the planets will become clearly visible after sunset in Devon at 10 degrees above the horizon in the south and southwest.
While the two planets would appear very close to each other, Saturn would actually be twice as far from Earth as Jupiter.
“ December 21st is also the winter solstice, and it’s the shortest day of the year.
So, the Christmas star – not quite special, but very special.
Jupiter and Saturn are the two largest planets in our solar system.
They would appear to be venturing close to each other, giving the impression of a “double planet”.
But in reality, you’ll be hundreds of millions of miles away, as NASA recently explained.
But the gas giants will be closer in the night sky over Christmas than they have been in centuries.
The pairing, referred to as the “Christmas Star” or “Star of Bethlehem,” will appear within two weeks.
The next time the Christmas star will be visible from Earth, it will be 2080.
Speaking to Forbes, astronomers said that such a “rather rare” alignment could be observed.
“The alignments between these two planets are rather rare, and they happen once every 20 years or so,” said Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University in Texas.
“This conjunction is exceptionally rare due to how close the planets are to one another.”
“You will have to go back to pre-dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky,” he added.
When will it be visible?
The Christmas star will be visible to stargazers later this month on the evening of December 21.
It has been reported that star-watchers should expect that a celestial event will appear immediately after sunset.
According to Forbes, it can be observed from anywhere on Earth where the sky is clear.
This means that residents of the UK should look for the phenomenon from 3:53 PM onwards – sunset time.
The “star” will appear very low on the horizon just after sunset, with a binoculars or telescope required.
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