The Christmas Star: Look for the convergence of Saturn and Jupiter in Monday’s night sky

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:
Saturn and Jupiter will come so close together they will look like a double planet. Astronomers call it a conjunction. (CREDIT: WINK News)

A once in a lifetime astronomical event is happening Monday night and the best part is you won’t need a telescope or binoculars to witness it.

What’s being called the Christmas Star is not really a star but instead the planets Jupiter and Saturn coming so close to each other that they will appear to be one giant star.

“They’re almost like one star tonight when you go out there to look at them,” said Dr. Derek Buzasi, a Whitaker Eminent Scholar in Science and astronomer at Florida Gulf Coast University.

The pair of planets come this closely together about once every 400 years, Buzasi said.

“They’re called conjunctions to astronomers,” Buzasi said. “This is the first of a pair that are maybe close together.”

Saturn and Jupiter have not been this observable since medieval times — almost 800 years ago, according to a CBS News story.

The phenomenon has been named the Christmas Star because of its closeness to the Christmas holiday this year.

“From a Christian religious perspective, of course, it ties into the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, the entire narrative of the Nativity in Bethlehem,” said Dr. Landon Frim, assistant professor of philosophy and expert in religion at FGCU.

The Christmas Star refers back to the Star of Bethlehem, which led the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem to visit newborn Baby Jesus, Frim said.

“There’s a lot of sort of inside baseball when it comes to Biblical exegesis,” Frim said. “If it was, you know, this star, a different kind of stars, or this conjunction of the two planets. But regardless, it’s very significant for a lot of people, especially because (of) the timing.”

The star will be most visible about an hour after sunset.

“It will be the brightest thing in the sky in that direction right above the horizon,” Buzasi said.

You won’t be able to miss it – just look to the southwestern sky.

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