Houston Chronicle – Just in case your dad isn’t as obsessed with space as mine is, let me remind you: On Dec. 21 a rare gleaming phenomenon known as the Christmas Star will be visible in the night sky.
The star of wonder (oh, star of night) is actually not a star at all. Rather, it’s a phenomenon known as the Great Conjunction, where Jupiter will pass Saturn creating two glowing spots in the sky only about a 10th of a degree apart. And with its timely arrival, some are calling it the “Christmas Star” or even the “Star of Bethlehem.”
Biblical comparisons aside, it’ll also be the closest the planets have been since they were spotted in 1623. With binoculars or a small telescope, viewers may even be able to see Jupiter’s four moons. And NASA seems to be just as excited about it as the rest of us lay folk.
As part of the NASA Science Live series, astronomer Henry Throop enthusiastically shared his advice on viewing the once in multiple lifetimes, saying that he was excited that most of the world will be able to spot this bright spot at the end of the year.
According to Throop, as long as you’re not in Antarctica or facing cloudy conditions it’ll be quite easy to spot the phenomenon. Find the sunset and about 45 minutes later the planets will be visible for about an hour.
Jupiter will look like the brightest star in the sky. Saturn will be a little higher, to the left, and fainter.