On Monday, the world saw an exceptional phenomenon of the conjunction of two planets – Saturn and Jupiter. The planets were the closest to each other than in the last 400 years and also the brightest. Furthermore, the light they produced might have been the famous Bethlehem Star.
The so-called “Great Conjunction” of the “Christmas Star” happens extremely rarely – Saturn and Jupiter meet much less often than other planets. They were visible in the sky on Monday, between 16:30 – 17:00, when they almost merged together. A similar astronomical occurrence is not expected until 2080.
“Although we are talking about December 21 as a record approach of these two planets, it will also be seen in the days to come. Just the planets will set smaller and their position above the horizon will be getting lower and lower, ” Pavel Suchan, a spokesman for the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, told Radiožurnál, Idnes.cz reports.
What does that have to do with the Star of Bethlehem? In the New Testament, the famous Star of Bethlehem led the magi to baby Jesus in Jerusalem. While scientists have long argued about what exactly could have been the Bethlehem Star, some are strongly convinced that magi saw the Great Conjunction. According to the estimates, this astronomical event could have taken place around the same time, close to 6 B.C. Johannes Kepler, for example, was a strong believer that the Great Conjunction was translated as the Bethlehem Star in Matthew’s Gospel.
“Astronomers have been researching what could happen in the sky to identify the Star of Bethlehem. The idea that the Star of Bethlehem was a comet is wrong. Even in the 17th century, Johannes Kepler noticed that just before the year 0, the so-called conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn took place in the sky, ” astronomer Veselý explained during a Czech radio broadcast, Idnes.cz reports.
The Winter Solstice also took place on Monday, around 5:02 am, according to Wtok. Therefore, if you were lucky enough, you might have witnessed the same thing that magi witnessed centuries ago. Here, you can watch the Great Conjunction live in case you’ve missed it: