The incredibly rare “Christmas star” should appear over Somerset in the coming days.
John McLean of the Exeter Observatory, who is also a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, said the extremely rare event could be December 21.
McLean said that the “Christmas star” is a union between the two planets; Jupiter and Saturn, when they appear very close to each other, appear to be one being.
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.
As I mentioned before Devon Live“@ This month will be at 1.30 pm, Maclone said, 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 showed.
However, 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, occurring once every 20 years or so,” said Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University in Texas.
This conjunction is extremely rare because of how close the planets are to each other. “
“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” is set to be visible to stargazers on the evening of December 21st.
It has been reported that star-watchers should expect that a celestial event will appear immediately after sunset.
According to Forbes, they can be observed from anywhere on Earth where the sky is clear.
This means that residents of the UK should look out 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.