'Christmas Star' will greet onlookers this winter solstice

Visible for the first time in nearly 800 years
Year In Space Photo Gallery
Posted at 6:31 AM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 06:33:55-05

WEST MICHIGAN — Within days of Christmas, on the winter solstice itself, an event nearly 800 years in the making will greet those who look up in the nighttime sky.

Even though it is 2020 and we have had a lot of firsts this year, we do not have to worry about anything weird happening with this event in the cosmos. It is being called the 'Christmas Star' as Jupiter and Saturn will look like a double planet in the sky as they make their closest approach to one another.

The two will still be millions of miles away from us and each other. However, to our view as we look up, they will appear as though they are sitting right on top of each other. It will brighten up the sky and be a once in a lifetime occurrence. This is why it is being called the 'Christmas Star' along with it's timing so close to the Christmas holiday. It has also not been like this and visible in the night sky since the early 1200s.

Now the pair come close to one another every 20 years, but not quite to the level of little separation they will have this time around. There have also been some years where it is not visible at night.

If you have a telescope, this will be even more amazing for you. You will be able to see both planets in the same line of sight and several of their largest moons.

If you don't have a special telescope, you don't have to worry! You will be able to see this from any point on earth with your own two eyes, of course weather permitting.

If you want to see it for yourself, as a special way to brighten up the longest night of the year, you will need to look towards the southwest. The two planets will be low on the horizon from sunset to 7:32 pm. If you go out any time after, it will be below the horizon and not visible.

The two planets have been visible for the last few months, but the winter solstice sky will be special because of how close they are to one another. You will want to catch a glimpse of this while it is here as the next occurrence will not happen until 2080.