How to View the Christmas Star 2020

how to see christmas star 2020
Night Sky Stock Image (C) Branden Bodendorfer

OnFocus – The Christmas Star, known at the Star of Bethlehem, will be visible on December 21 for the first time since 1226. The “star” is actually two planets that will appear so close together that they will almost look like one point of light.

Once every two decades, Jupiter and Saturn get close enough together to be seen in one telescope view. In recent months, the two outer planets have been moving towards one another, and on December 21 will be at their visual closest. It is this closeness (only 0.1 degree apart) that is the phenomenon called “The Christmas Star.”

Appearing at just around 1/5 of a full Moon apart (one of their closest meetings), Jupiter and Saturn will be near enough to one another that many telescopes may be able to see both planets at once in the same field of view.

Don’t worry about a collision, however! While the two gas giants may APPEAR close, in reality they are hundreds of millions of miles apart. This will still be quite a striking sight, but you will need to look fast as both planets will set shortly after sunset. Look above the western horizon after sunset on December 21 for these bright, close planets- a clear view will help!

To view the Christmas Star, look towards the western horizon on December 21.You will find the planets near the moon just after sunset between December 16th and Christmas Day, with their closest meeting on December 21.

Illustration of the crescent Moon passing near the planets in mid-December, from EarthSky.

For more information check out this guide from EarthSky:

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News Desk
Author: News Desk

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