The Christmas Star


Cooper Ams, Co-Editor

This Christmas, people across the world will have the chance to see the “Christmas Star.” While the Christmas Star is called a star, it is not. The Christmas Star is caused by the conjunction of two of the largest gas giants in our solar system: Jupiter and Saturn. While this conjunction happens and is seen about every 20 years. David Weigel, the planetarium director of the INTUITIVE Planetarium at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, claims that in 2020, because of the orbit of the planets, they will appear to come the closest to each other in about 800 years. Scientists say that people will only be able to observe this event for about 45 minutes after the sun sets. People are suggested to bring a telescope to experience the sighting, but if you wish to get a better view of the Christmas Star, then scientists suggest that you should use an astronomer’s telescope. Scientists also suggest that if you are trying to get a look at the star yourself, then you should go to a place where you can view the horizon without any obstructions, or in other words, don’t be in an area with a lot of trees.


While many people believe that this is the Christmas Star, Weigel believes otherwise. Back in 7 BC, Saturn and Jupiter experienced a triple conjunction, meaning that the two planets had three conjunctions in the same year, which is much rarer than a single occurrence. With this being the third conjunction of the year, the two planets were about ten times further apart than expected for this year and did not omit a light nearly as bright as the light expected for this year. Weigel believes that the star in 7 BC was not powerful enough to invoke the wise men to embark on their journey. Weigel believes that the only other explanation for the actual Christmas Star would be multiple conjunctions followed by a nova. A nova is a bright light that is formed when a dense core of a once-normal star “steals” gas from nearby stars. While there has been scientific explanation on how the occurrence on December 21 will not be the Christmas Star, many people still believe that it is. No matter whether or not you think that it is the actual Christmas Star, it will still be an amazing sight to see. As we approach the end of 2020, it is only fitting that we are able to observe a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, which the world has not seen in nearly 800 years!