Storm Team 11 explains why ‘Christmas Star’ is rare

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(WJHL)- The conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter on the winter solstice is a once-in-a-lifetime view, as conjunctions like this one happen maybe once every 1000 years.

Dr. Gary Henson, an astronomy professor at ETSU, says, “It’s not that Jupiter and Saturn are physically close to each other in space, it is just the line of sight as we view them from Earth makes them appear close together.”

Jupiter and Saturn appear close every 20 years. What makes this time so special is they come so close that they appear as one.

The conjunction’s nickname, the “Christmas Star”, is not because it is close to Christmas, but because Jupiter and Venus were this close was back in two BC.

“Well 2 BC is close to the uncertain date of the birth of Jesus Christ. In the book of Matthew in the Bible, they talk in three verses about the Star of Bethlehem that shows up.

Some people have proposed that perhaps this unique event of the two merge so closely together in the sky that you could not resolve in the separate planets signified an important event happening in the world”,  Dr. Henson says.

The window to see this rare event is about a half-hour. Start looking by 6 pm in the southwest sky. They will be about two hand widths from the horizon at their highest.

Another rare occurrence from this conjunction is the fact you can see two planets in one telescope view.

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