GREENSBORO, N.C. — Right on time to kick off the Christmas week, the "Christmas Star" as it's been called, will be visible tonight and could be something fun for the whole family to see just after sunset.
It's not actually one star, or even a star at all, it's Jupiter and Saturn getting very close in the sky to appear as one bright spot of light in the southwest sky.
Over the past couple weeks the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn have been getting closer together, and very visible on a clear night, too. But, tonight (December 21st) they'll come together the closest for the 'Great' Conjunction. It will look like they nearly merge as one, but in reality they're still millions of miles away.
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According to NASA, what makes this conjunction so rare is that it's been nearly 400 years since these two planets passed this close to each other, but even longer, almost 800 years since they passed this close at night.
It seems like perfect timing that the conjunction is coinciding with the week of Christmas plus falling on the first day of Winter, but that's merely just a coincidence and almost perfect timing.
HOW TO SEE IT?
The "Christmas Star" will be easy to spot in the sky. Look southwest in the hour after sunset. Sunset is at 5:09 P.M. with the best time to view between 5:45 PM -7:00 P.M. Look for Jupiter to be the brightest light with Saturn just atop of it to the right. It likely won't look like one big star, but rather like a big area of light in the sky. You should be able to see two distinct planets with the naked eye, but a good pair of binoculars or a telescope could make the detail of the planets easier to see.
We'll stay sunny and clear for the afternoon. A totally clear sky isn't a guarantee, as there could be a few clouds scattered across the area, but it shouldn't hinder the opportunity to view the conjunction.
Go, look up and enjoy this rare sight!