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How to see the first alignment of Jupiter and Saturn in 800 years over the British sky


Jupiter and Saturn will align over the British sky for the first time in 800 years in a phenomenon known as the "Star of Bethlehem".

The two gas giants have gradually grown closer since the beginning of summer.

And on December 21st, the planets seem to practically overlap in the sky in a phenomenon that has not been observed since the Middle Ages.

The conjunction will create a brilliant bright light – which leads many to liken it to the star of Bethlehem.

Those in London and New York will see the planets near the horizon around 4 p.m. – about an hour after sunset.

Telescopes may be required to see the convergence in detail, but the light should be visible to the naked eye from a high point.

Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer together in the night sky on December 21st than they have for nearly 800 years, astronomers have said. Pictured: How the night sky will appear in the southwest on the evening of the winter solstice

On December 21st, the planets seem to practically overlap in the sky in a phenomenon that has not been observed since the Middle Ages

On December 21st, the planets seem to practically overlap in the sky in a phenomenon that has not been observed since the Middle Ages

If you have a telescope and are looking towards Jupiter and Saturn on December 21st, they will appear farther apart than from Earth, but you can still see the larger moons and the two gas giants in the same field of view

If you have a telescope and are looking towards Jupiter and Saturn on December 21st, they will appear farther apart than from Earth, but you can still see the larger moons and the two gas giants in the same field of view

The German astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote in 1614 that he believed that the "star of Bethlehem" in the nativity story could have been a connection between Jupiter and Saturn.

The star led the three wise men to baby Jesus.

Others have suggested that the "three wise men" might have followed a triple conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus.

While Venus won't be visible as part of conjunction 2020, it will nonetheless be an impressive astronomical site, best viewed at the equator but seen worldwide.

At their closest location, Jupiter and Saturn will appear less than a full moon apart in an incredible event not set to repeat until 2080.

The convergence, which actually puts the planets 500 million miles apart, appears closer and closer to the horizon as it gets darker, until it disappears completely from view at 6:20 p.m.

The German astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote in 1614 that he believed that the "Star of Bethlehem" in the biblical story of the three wise men could have been a rare triple lead from Jupiter, Saturn and Venus

The German astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote in 1614 that he believed that the "Star of Bethlehem" in the biblical story of the three wise men could have been a rare triple lead from Jupiter, Saturn and Venus

The next time Jupiter and Saturn appear this close in the sky, it won't be until March 15, 2080 - when they will be visible higher in the sky and longer.

The next time Jupiter and Saturn appear this close in the sky, it won't be until March 15, 2080 – when they will be visible higher in the sky and longer.

Twitter users have shared images of the night sky showing Jupiter and Saturn (halfway between the trees) as they move closer together

Twitter users have shared images of the night sky showing Jupiter and Saturn (halfway between the trees) as they move closer together

When Jupiter and Saturn (shown here as bright lights) come together, they are visible in the southwest sky at dusk

When Jupiter and Saturn (shown here as bright lights) come together, they are visible in the southwest sky at dusk

After the giant planets have "approached" since summer, they appear less than a full moon apart shortly after sunset on the winter solstice shown

After the giant planets have "approached" since summer, they appear less than a full moon apart shortly after sunset on the winter solstice shown

The two planets will gradually get closer and closer in November and December until they appear as a single object on December 21st - before they part after Christmas

The two planets will gradually get closer and closer in November and December until they appear as a single object on December 21st – before they part after Christmas

THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM: INSPIRED THE THREE WISE MEN TO BABY JESUS ​​IN BIBLE STORIES

The star of Bethlehem or the poinsettia is said to have inspired the three wise men from the east to visit the baby Jesus in Bible stories.

It appears in the nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew, where they are said to have asked King Herod of Judea: "Where is he who was born King of the Jews?" For we have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him. & # 39;

It is said that the star took them to the hometown of Jesus, where they worshiped him and gave him gifts of golden frankincense and myrrh.

The Gospel describes the visitors as "magicians", which is usually translated as "wise", but can also be called astronomer / astrologer.

Astronomers have made several attempts to calculate what that star could have been – whether it was a celestial event or a pious fiction.

The famous German astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote in 1614 that he believed that the "Star of Bethlehem" in the biblical story of the three wise men could have been a rare triple lead from Jupiter, Saturn and Venus.

This would create a very bright point of light in the sky that would only appear for a few days. A similar conjunction should take place at Christmas 2020.

Other theories are a supernova explosion that comes pretty close – that could appear like a very, very bright sky or even a comet for a relatively short period of time.

Chinese and Korean stargazers have written over a bright object that may have been around 5 BC. Was a comet or supernova and has been seen for more than 70 days.

Ancient astronomers wrote about comets that "hang" over certain cities – just as the star of Bethlehem is supposed to "stand" over the place where Jesus was born – the city of Bethlehem.

The next time Jupiter and Saturn appear this close in the sky, it won't be until March 15, 2080 – when they will be visible higher in the sky and longer.

The next such connection of the two bodies thereafter will not take place until sometime after the year 2400.

"On the evening of closest rapprochement on December 21, they will look like a double planet separated by only 1/5 the diameter of the full moon," added Professor Hartigan.

"For most telescope viewers, every planet and several of its largest moons will be visible in the same field of view this evening."

While Kepler believed a connection between Jupiter, Saturn and Venus was behind the story of the "Star of Bethlehem" in the Bible, others believed that it was possibly another astronomical event such as a large comet in the sky.

Professor Hartigan said the planetary duo would appear low in the western sky around sunset – and should be bright enough to be viewed in the twilight sky.

In reality, the two planets will still be millions of miles apart, but they appear together due to differences in their orbits.

"The further north a viewer is, the less time they will have to look at the conjunction before the planets sink below the horizon," said Professor Hartigan.

"For example, when the sky in Houston is completely dark, the conjunction is only 9 degrees above the horizon," he added.

"To see that would be manageable if the weather cooperates and you have a clear view to the southwest."

If you have a telescope and look up for conjunction on December 21st, according to astronomers, you will not only see Jupiter and Saturn, but also some of their largest moons in the same field of view.

"Alignments between these two planets are rather rare and occur about every 20 years," said astronomer Patrick Hartigan of Rice University in Houston, Texas.

"But this conjunction is exceptionally rare because the planets are close together," he explained.

"You would have to go back to just before sunrise on March 4, 1226 to see closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky."

The Assistant Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society, Dr. Roberty Massey told The Sun, "It's a rare and spectacular event that is free. So why not enjoy it because Lockdown can't stop it?"

He said one area of ​​the sky will be brighter than the other – so if you look at that, the viewer can see the convergence.

Users have shared images of Jupiter and Saturn that appear as bright stars as they move closer together in the lead up to their conjunction on December 21st

Users have shared images of Jupiter and Saturn that appear as bright stars as they move closer together in the lead up to their conjunction on December 21st

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