A once-every-two-decade conjunction involving the solar system’s two gas giants will give earthbound observers a look at a so-called “Christmas Star” on the winter solstice.
Come sunset Dec. 21 in any time zone around the world, Jupiter and Saturn seemingly will merge into a single bright point of light low in the western sky.
The Great Conjunction of 2020 will yield an expected spectacular astronomical sight involving the two planets unseen in nearly eight centuries.
The two planets have been approaching conjunction — a point when planets or other bodies as seen from earth are near each other in the night sky — all year. That the conjunction is occurring near Christmas Day has given rise to talk about the Star of Bethlehem that the Gospel of Matthew describes in his telling of the birth of Jesus.
As the story goes, the Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas Star, appears in the nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew where “wise men from the East” (Magi) are inspired by the star to travel to Jerusalem. There, they meet King Herod of Judea, and ask him:
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
Herod calls his scribes and priests who quote to him that a verse from the Book of Micah interpreted as a prophecy, states that the Jewish Messiah would be born in Bethlehem to the south of Jerusalem. Secretly intending to find and kill the Messiah in order to preserve his own kingship, Herod invites the wise men to return to him on their way home.
The star leads them to Jesus’ home in the town, where they worship him and give him gifts. The wise men are then given a divine warning not to return to Herod, so they return home by a different route.
As I am reading a few posts by catholic believers, the current situation is akin to the one that existed in the year Jesus was born – there’s darkness, unrest, misery, death, ignorance – this planetary disposition leading to the formation of Christmas star should clear away all these evils to give back the much awaited happiness to the human race.
This is the first of the posts during the current festive season of Christmas and new year and readers can expect a few more.