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There will be a spectacular sky this Christmas

There will be a spectacular sky this Christmas

There will be a spectacular sky this Christmas

An exceptionally rare “spectacular event in the sky’ will see the stars align to create a “Christmas star” effect, similar to the one that led the three wise men to the nativity scene.

For the first time in hundreds of years, Saturn and Jupiter will come together to be the closest they have been in centuries to create a “conjunction”.

While conjunctions – where objects appear very close to each other in the sky – are not rare, this will be an “exceptionally close” one, the closest since 1623, Professor Michael Burton has said.

Professor Burton said the two biggest planets in the solar system will be just 0.1 degrees apart, and will appear together as the brightest object in the sky.

The director of the longest-running astronomical observatory in the British Isles said. “When that happened it was in the daytime skies so people would not have seen it because it would have been too light.


“The last one which actually would have been well placed to be seen was 1226, so we’re going back 800 years to the last one which would have been up in the dark sky to be seen.”

The Christmas Star is so-called as it is believed that this celestial event may have been the star of Bethlehem, which the Three Wise Men in the Bible story of Jesus Christ's birth followed.

The astronomer, of Armagh Planetarium and Observatory in Northern Ireland, said: “Certainly one of the possibilities might have been two of the planets coming together.

“The whole question of what might the Christmas star have been is a very interesting question in its own right. Whether it was a conjunction, whether it was a comet, whether it was a supernova. No-one actually knows what it was.”

He said the brightness in the sky expected on December 21 is “one possibility for what was seen back 2,000 years ago.”

Astronomy Ireland advised people hoping to catch a glimpse of the event to "look for high ground with a clear view of the horizon, look to the south west and you should see them clearly."

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