On December 21 2020, you’ll be able to catch this gorgeous cosmic phenomenon called the “Christmas star” or “Star of Bethlehem” (named after it’s closeness to Christmas). The “Christmas star” is the first celestial happening of its kind to occur in 800 years. Meaning the last people to witness it were living in the Middle Ages, according to GreenMatters.
What is the cause of this stunning display, you might wonder? Well, in short, it is an extremely rare alignment between Jupiter and Saturn. Astronomer Patrick Hartigan from Rice University explained to Forbes what makes this visible star so significant.
"Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to be to one another. You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky."
How will you be able to see this magical, once in a lifetime, alignment of celestial bodies? If you are in the Northern Hemisphere you’ll need a telescope or binoculars and direct them to the southwest section of the sky. Getting yourself to higher grounds is also a good move. Mental Floss writes to make sure there’s no light pollution clouding your view (streetlights and lights from cities).
Some people, for example stargazers, are super excited to catch a glimpse of this rare event, meanwhile others are happy there’s something magnificent and miraculous wrapping up 2020. And some people even see this as a sign that good things are to come in 2021. No matter your reason to admire the “Christmas star”, you can look up at the sky knowing others are as well, connecting us through time and space.