By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
Mark your calendars and pray for clear skies on Monday, Dec. 21, the winter solstice.
You may witness, for the first time since the Middle Ages, the “Christmas Star” or “Star of Bethlehem” when Jupiter and Saturn will line up in very close proximity and appear to be one and the same.
The last time this occurred was just before dawn on March 4, 1226, according to Patrick Hartigan, astronomer at Rice University. That’s almost 800 years! Jupiter and Saturn do line up approximately every 20 years, but not as close as they will be December 21, 2020.
Keep your eyes and telescopes on the southwest portion of the sky about 45 minutes after sunset. Sunset will take place at 4:53 p.m. on Monday, which means the alignment should be at 5:38 p.m. Appearances from this phenomenon could possibly be seen throughout the week.
The next predicted line-up occurrence of this magnitude would not be until 2080.