Christmas Star to light up the night sky

NEWS Monday, 21 December, 2020

On the winter solstice, December 21st 2020, a 'Christmas Star' will light up the Cyprus sky for the first time in centuries.

In a rare celestial event that has not been seen by human eyes for nearly 800 years, we will be able to witness what is called a conjunction of planets - in this case Jupiter and Saturn.

The planets will appear (weather permitting) to be so close that they will look like one gigantic shining star.

A conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which only happens about once every 20 years, is called a great conjunction. Astronomers say the last time the two planets were this close to each other would have been in 1623, but for one that was actually visible, you would have to go even further back to 1226.

The two planets have been moving closer together in the night sky since the summer and will be separated by less than the diameter of a full moon from December 16th through to Christmas Day.

The pair of planets will become visible around thirty minutes after sunset, close to the southwestern horizon.

After 2020, the next great conjunctions will occur on November 2, 2040 and April 7, 2060. On both these occasions, the minimum separation of Jupiter and Saturn will be 1.1 degrees—which means they will be eleven times farther apart than on December 21, 2020.