Will we see the star of Bethlehem on December 21?
On Monday, December 21, the shortest day of the year, when the sun will set a few minutes after 5, whoever looks up at the sky will see a bright star.
For about two and a half hours and since there are no clouds, the two largest planets in the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, in a celestial phenomenon called “Synod or Great Conjunction”, will come as close as 0.1 degree apart. They will look as though they are so close together but in fact they will remain hundreds of millions of miles apart in space. They say it will look like a big elongated star, something that for centuries and whenever the phenomenon has been repeated, theologians and astronomers have been wondering whether it could be the Star of Bethlehem.
Jupiter and Saturn
“Jupiter and Saturn the two biggest worlds in our solar system will be very close at a distance of only the first 6 minutes, ie 1/10 of the degree. It is 1/10 of the thickness of our finger when we have our hand outstretched. In heaven it is a degree. That is, the planets will be as far apart as the thickness of our fingernail, as soon as they stand out from each other “, Stavros Avgoloupis, professor of Observational Astronomy at the Pedagogical Department of Primary Education of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, explains, ” this is not a strange phenomenon. However, this year on the same day “we have another important astronomical fact, that the Sun is in the winter solstice, ie the shortest day of the year, which is 9 hours 16 minutes”, while in the same corner at 90 degrees is followed by Mars “.
“What hours will the phenomenon be visible”
The celestial phenomenon, as the professor explains, will be visible from all over the world, as long as it is night and there are no clouds. “All three planets will be visible to the naked eye. However, we must hurry to see Jupiter and Saturn, because they set at 2.5 hours after sunset. We can look at Mars until midnight, because when the Sun sets, so does Mars. “Looking south,” he explains, adding that “Planetary Summits are not uncommon” and “on November 12 we had Pluto very close to Jupiter, but we were not impressed because Pluto is not visible to the naked eye.”
But why did the Great Conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn prevail to be called the star of Bethlehem? Was it this Christmas star that led the three wise men to find Christ? Mr. Avgoloupis talks about the hypotheses examined from the point of view of Theology, as well as from the point of view of Astronomy, noting that “from the appearance of this star until today, several views have been heard for its interpretation, both by theologians and interpreters of the scriptures , but also by astronomers “.
“The reference to the Holy Scriptures”
For the star of the Nativity of Christ there is a unique complete reference in the Gospel according to Matthew, a description of the three wise men who followed the star: “And of Jesus born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold the three wise men of the east. When they saw the star in the east, they followed the star as in the prophets their King would be born. Following the star they came to a barn and saw the new born King worshiping him, rejoicing with great joy, falling to their knees they offered treasures of gold, myrrh and frankincense. ”
“The question is whether there is an astronomical proposition for a known celestial phenomenon that fully satisfies the qualities mentioned for this star by the evangelist Matthew or whether, as St. John Chrysostom emphasizes, we must look for this star deeply in our soul, feeling humiliated in front of this Divine Mystery “, says Mr. Avgoloupis.
From the point of view of Theology, apart from the Evangelist Matthew, there is a report by Ignatius Theophorus, who was a student of the Evangelist John and bishop of Antioch and lived from 35 to 107 AD. “In his letter to the Ephesians he mentions that when Jesus was born, an unprecedented star shone in the sky whose light was remarkably unusual and this mystery made the whole world wonder”, the professor notes, adding that “Isaih also refers that “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
In the 4th AD John Chrysostom made an in-depth study of the star of Bethlehem, who, examining all the properties of the star, remarked that it seemed even during the day, that there could not have been a star that descended so low as to show right in the manger, from its infinite height descending and standing above the head of the newborn Christ “and thus” concluded that it is a supernatural unique and world-famous event that marks the beginning of a new era “.
A unique time.
But while single conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn occur once every 20 years, such triple conjunctions are far less frequent, occurring about once every 180 years on average; the last time was in 1981, but the next won’t happen until 2239. For the Magi, Jupiter, pacing back-and-forth with Saturn in 7 BC would certainly have been looked upon as something unique.
But one thing is certain. If you consider a very close conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn as a “Christmas Star,” our two planets will scrunch even closer together on Dec. 25, in the year 2874.
How to find it…
Either way, this particular phenomenon will have people discussing its being. for those who want to see it, here’s what to do;-
- Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
- An hour after sunset, look to the south-western sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
- The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.
source: NASA & Wikipedia.
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