ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A rare celestial event may be the only holiday light show North Texans were focused on Monday night, Dec 21: The two largest planets in our solar system aligned in a way that hasn’t been seen for centuries.
Jupiter and Saturn appear to merge into a single source of light, an astronomical conjunction.
“Jupiter moves faster because it’s closer to the sun, and it’s catching up with Saturn,” said Dr. Krista Smith, an assistant professor of physics at SMU. “And so we will see them together in the sky.”
The last visible conjunction this close happened nearly 800 years ago.
“It’s pretty neat to be able to see something that’s rare for us to be able to see,” said Melissa Lambert, who brought her daughter out to Veterans Park in Arlington for a glimpse of the cosmic marvel.
“I got a telescope for Christmas and my mom let me unwrap it early because we wanted to see the planets,” her daughter Helen said.
They weren’t the only family who brought out a telescope for the event.
“We don’t know how to use it, but we’re figuring it out and I think we got something,” David Postlewate said. “We’re really excited.”
The good news for amateur astronomers is that the great conjunction can be seen with the naked eye.
Some even think the “Star of Bethlehem” was a similar planetary happening.
“It is possible though that the Christmas star that’s referenced in biblical text is a reference to an astronomical event because it may have been significant to astrologers, and at the time people known as wise men as they’re describing the Bible most likely would’ve been astrologers,” Dr. Smith said.
This year, it’s viewed as a thrill of hope for a world weary of 2020.
“It’s supposed to be a new dawn, an era of change and awakening, so I think people are excited about that based on the year that’s been happening,” said Postlewate.
If you missed the big show Monday night, you don’t have to wait another 800 years to see it again.
The next great conjunction of the two planets is expected in 2080.
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