Tonight is the first alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, resulting our perspective off both of them sharing a single spot in the sky, resembling a very bright star to the Southwest. The best viewing time for this is right after sunset today, which will begin at 4:48pm– the higher the elevation the better, to escape cloud cover and pollution.
While alignments of these two planets only happen every 20 years or so, this event has not seen Jupiter and Saturn align in such a close formation during the nighttime sky in a very, very long time.
“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.” said astronomer Patrick Hartigan, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University in Houston.
Yes, that’s 794 years ago.
And as far as the name “Christmas Star”? Historians with a penchant for astronomy have long speculated that this event in the year 6AD may have been what was written about as the famous guiding star for three men carrying frankincense, myrrh, and gold.
So while 2020 has left many of us shaken, not stirred, we can take a moment of this interesting year to behold a truly rare event.