Jupiter and Saturn aligned so closely on December 21st that they appeared as a single brilliant, blazing star. This Jupiter-Saturn conjunction may have an even stronger connection to the Biblical tale of Jesus Christ's birth than its appearance so close to Christmas this year. It all began in 7 B.C., when Jupiter and Saturn were joined by Mars right down to the center point between them. This is called a grand trine and it usually indicates that something major is going to happen. Indeed, something major did happen in that year: Jupiter and Saturn turned around and moved closer together, which has never happened before or since. The reason for this alignment is still not clear. Some believe it may have been due to a reaction against the corruption of Roman power at that time, while others think it may have been the beginning of the end for Roman power in the world.
Jesus was born during this alignment, which some scholars say is another indication that he was probably born in July. But there's more...
Jupiter and Saturn are both planets that represent authority. So, their meeting in the sky could be seen as an indication that a new leader was about to emerge who was not only good but also had the support of heaven itself. And what leader would not want to know such good news soon after he was chosen? So, Jesus' birth may have been timed to coincide with this astronomical event because people would remember it forever after his death.
Jupiter and Saturn will have their big conjunction in 2020 today, which also happens to be the day of the December solstice. These two worlds will be visible in our sky closer than they have been since 1226. Jupiter and Saturn will be barely 0.1 degree apart at their closest. They'll be completely invisible with the unaided eye but easily discernible through a telescope.
The collision threat between these two planets has been talked about for many years now. In fact, it's been speculated that such a collision might have helped create Earth as we know it today! The idea is that when Saturn moved into its current position, it took Jupiter with it, creating a massive explosion that sent particles streaming into Earth's atmosphere to form clouds, water, and life as we know it.
This theory was first proposed by Swiss astronomer Jean Meeus in 1556 and has been discussed ever since. It turns out that this danger zone between Jupiter and Saturn contains a lot of energy due to all the gravitational forces at play. If they did collide, they would probably create a new world outfitted with the same elements we see today but in different proportions.
The collision question comes up time and time again but there are no plans to prevent this from happening.
Jupiter and Saturn will be so closely aligned in our sky on the night of December 21, the winter solstice, that they will seem as a double planet—or a giant, brilliant "star." This close proximity is referred to as a conjunction. At this time of year, both Jupiter and Saturn are visible all night long with the naked eye from anywhere on Earth.
The Sun crosses the equator going from south to north for the southern hemisphere, and north to south for the northern hemisphere. On the night of the winter solstice, it passes directly over the center of Earth at midnight PST (3 AM EST). Because no part of Earth is facing away from the Sun, it is completely dark everywhere on Earth during this hour.
At 3 a.m., as dawn begins to break in the southern hemisphere, you can see that there is only one star in the sky: the Sun. From here on out, it will be daytime everywhere in the southern hemisphere until 10 a.m., when night falls again. But in the northern hemisphere, night has fallen already! The Sun has crossed the equator, bringing spring forward into the northern hemisphere and fall back into the southern hemisphere.
On the morning of the winter solstice, the Sun rises due east at 0 degrees latitude and climbs high into the sky before turning south-east at 15 degrees latitude, passing directly over the equator.
Astronomer Dave Reneke proposed in 2008 that Jesus was born in the summer. According to Reneke, the Star of Bethlehem might have been Venus and Jupiter combining to generate a dazzling light in the sky. Reneke used computer models to conclude that this uncommon occurrence occurred on June 17, 2 B.C. The problem with this argument is that scientists already know that Venus does not go down beneath the horizon until after sunset, which means that it would have been visible during the day.
Another problem is that the Magi who visited King Herod saw the star before it vanished. If it had been Venus, then they would have seen only its rising or setting, not both. Finally, astronomers today still identify stars as being from planet Earth based on their color and brightness; therefore, if Jesus really was born with blue skin and eight points, then he could not have been born in the summer.
Jesus was probably born in the fall. The temperature at that time of year was not extreme, so there's no reason why he shouldn't have been born with skin color like everyone else. Also, there were lots of stars in the night sky back then, so it's possible that someone might have thought that they saw an eighth point along with the other seven planets surrounding Venus.
In June, Jesus was born, and in the summer, the "Christmas Star" appeared. So Christmas has been celebrated on January 7 since 858 A.D.
Jupiter and Saturn are planets. From mid-evening till dawn in July 2021, you may view the huge planet Jupiter and the ringed planet Saturn. This month, they're almost at their peak. When they appear opposite the sun as seen from Earth in August, they will have an opposition.
The best place to see them is from within a dark site for viewing objects without light pollution. They can be seen with the naked eye on a clear night from pretty much everywhere on Earth apart from North America.
Saturn is about 950 million miles from Earth while Jupiter is 595 million miles away. The two planets take 12 years to orbit the Sun, so they won't be with us forever. But we'll be able to see them for many years to come.
These two giant planets often dominate the night sky, but they're not the only ones out there. There are over 800 known moons orbiting our planet, some large (Neptune's moon Triton is larger than France) and some small (asteroid Eros has a diameter of less than a mile).
Many people wonder: Why do we need stars like our Sun? Well, stars like our Sun provide energy that allows other planets such as Earth to support life. Earth needs the Sun because it provides all the energy required for water to exist as a liquid on its surface.