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This year the world will receive an early Christmas gift — compliments of the universe — on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. The Christmas Star, also known as the Star of Bethlehem, will grace the sky four days before Christmas Day (December 25).
The biblical story in the Book of Matthews surrounding the Chrismas Star involves the three wise men.
The luminous star shined bright above Jesus’ location and guided them to the savior. Upon their arrival, they adorned him with ostentatious gifts.
The Christmas Star occurs when Saturn and Jupiter align. This year, it will occur on December 21 which is also the day of the annual winter solstice. The winter solstice marks the first day of winter.
It is the day that has the longest night and the least amount of daylight. However, the last time the world witnessed the Christmas Star was on March 4, 1226 — 800 years ago.
These two planets come together every 20 years, but this year the proximity will be a mere one-tenth of a degree apart – one-fifth of a diameter of a full moon.
To witness this early Christmas gift those who gaze at the stars in the northern hemisphere should wait 45 minutes after the sun sets to see the alignment. They must look to the southwest area of the sky.
The next time the world can marvel at this celestial delight is when those that are 20 years old this year — turn 80. The current millennials will have bragging rights on March 15, 2080 — of witnessing the Christmas Star — for the second time in their lifetime.
Written by Sheree Bynum
WGN: Christmas Star’ to light up December sky for first time in 800 years; Laura Morrison and Nexstar Media Wire
Earth Sky: Was the Christmas Star real?; Larry Sessions
Tennessean: Jupiter and Saturn to align in December to create ‘Christmas Star’ for first time in 800 years; Daniella Medina
Britannica: Winter solstice
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of liz west’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License