(Photo credit: NASA)
Night watchers have been prepping for a rare event coming on December 21st known as the Christmas star.
Press Release from NASA
The planets regularly appear to pass each other in the solar system, with the positions of Jupiter and Saturn being aligned in the sky about once every 20 years.
What makes this year’s spectacle so rare, then? It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction.”
Monday evening, the bright planet Jupiter and the fainter planet Saturn will appear nearest to each other, about one-tenth of a degree apart. As evening twilight ends (at 5:53 p.m. EST for the Washington, D.C. area) they will appear about 12 degrees above the southwestern horizon. This should be a spectacular view with either the naked eye, or with a backyard telescope.
Also Monday evening, the waxing Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 6:41 p.m EST.