A festive treat awaits astronomers, as a “Christmas Star” will light up the night sky for the first time in about 800 years.
Astronomers say it will be visible this month, during the winter solstice, and is unlikely to be seen again for decades.
The phenomenon will be caused when Jupiter and Saturn align together, reports North Wales Live.
We have together a list of what to expect, when and where you can see it. Here are the details.
What is the ‘Christmas Star’?
The two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will get closer and appear to collide later this month, which can give the impression of a “double planet.”
However, they will actually be hundreds of millions of miles apart, as NASA recently explained.
However, the gas giants will be closer in the night sky during Christmas than they have been for centuries.
The conjunction, known as the ‘Christmas Star’ or ‘Star of Bethlehem’, will be visible later this month, just before Christmas Day.
It is said to have been last seen in the 13th century, and will reportedly not happen again until around 2080.
Speaking to Forbes magazine, astronomers have said that such an alignment is “pretty rare” to observe.
Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University in Texas, said: “The alignments between these two planets are quite rare and occur about once every 20 years.
“This conjunction is exceptionally rare due to how close the planets will appear to be to each other.”
He added: “You would have to go back until just before sunrise on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these visible objects in the night sky.”
When will it be visible?
The ‘Christmas Star’ will be visible to stargazers later this month on the night of December 21.
It has been reported that stargazers should expect the celestial event to occur just after sunset.
According to Forbes, it can be observed from anywhere on Earth where the sky is clear.
It means that those in the UK should look for the phenomenon from 3:53 pm onwards, sunset time.
The ‘star’ will appear very low on the horizon just after sunset, with binoculars or a telescope necessary.
Please let us know if you will be looking for it by commenting below.
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