On December 21, 2020 a celestial event known as the “Christmas Star” will occur. At that time the solar system’s two largest planets, Saturn and Jupiter, will have their closest visible encounter since 1226. This unique phenomena led famous astronomer, Johannes Kepler in 1614, to suggest that this alignment might have been what was written about in the Bible when the wisemen came to Jerusalem seeking the birth of the “King of the Jews” after seeing a bright star in the sky.
The last time the planets were this close was in 1623-- only 14 years after Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter with the invention of the telescope. When these planets meet again it will be in 2080. Note: Though it looks like a sliver separates Jupiter and Saturn, they are actually about 400 million miles apart.
A view of the two planets coming into near-alignment will be just after sunset, in the southwestern portion of the sky. Although best seen with binoculars or a telescope, the encounter should be visible to the naked eye.
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