‘Christmas Star’ set to light up night sky on winter solstice
DETROIT – If the weather cooperates, something very special will be visible on the winter solstice this Monday night -- the “Star of Bethlehem,” also known as the “Christmas Star.”Despite the names, it’s actually not a star at all. Since Jupiter orbits the sun every 12 years and Saturn orbits the sun every 30 years, the two largest planets in the solar system don’t line up very often. The two gas giants will cross paths in the night sky on the winter solstice on Monday, Dec. 21. Though the planets are 450 million miles apart, to the naked eye, they will appear as one bright light in the sky. To view the Christmas Star, turn your gaze toward the southwest sky a little after sunset on Monday, Dec. 21.
Rare ‘Christmas Star’ to be visible for first time in 800 years on Dec. 21
With this year’s winter solstice comes more than just confirmation of our already-cold weather and ever-fleeting daylight: The rare “Christmas Star” will be visible for the first time in 800 years. Each year, Earth’s northern hemisphere enters the winter solstice on Dec. 21 -- the shortest day of the year -- officially marking the start of winter. This year, bright planets Jupiter and Saturn will align perfectly on Dec. 21 to create what is commonly called the Christmas Star or the “Star of Bethlehem.”According to NASA, Jupiter and Saturn align with one another every 20 years or so, but not nearly as close together as they will be in 2020. Experts say the Christmas Star can be seen by the unaided eye just after sunset on Dec. 21, 2020. You can see Saturn and Jupiter nearly align on Dec. 21, forming what appears to be a Christmas star.