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For the first time in 800 years, the solar system will present us with a “Christmas Star” – a result of Saturn and Jupiter aligning in what is sometimes referred to as “The Great Conjunction.”
The event will happen on December 21 – the Winter Solstice – and will see Jupiter and Saturn lining up to create an incredible star of wonder, or what is known as the “Christmas Star” or “Star of Bethlehem.”
“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,” said Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University, according to Forbes. “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.”
According to Fox, stargazers in the northern hemisphere should be able to see the “Christmas Star” about 45 minutes after sunset as the planets align at their closest on December 21. However, viewers should be able to catch a glimpse of the cosmic event about an hour after sunset during the entire week.
Forbes reports the next Great Conjunction this close won’t happen again until March 15, 2080.