The 'Star Of Bethlehem' Returns For The First Time in 400 Years As Jupiter Aligns With Saturn

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The 'Star Of Bethlehem' Returns For The First Time in 400 Years As Jupiter Aligns With Saturn

Astronomers and members of the public are preparing for a celestial event that has not occurred in almost 400 years, the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn. The two largest planets in our solar system will align on the night of the 21st of December and appear in the sky, visible to the naked eye, as a super-planet. The alignment will still be visible for a number of days up to Christmas.

The planets will appear in the south-west shortly after sunset.

It is the first time that this alignment has been seen from Earth since just a couple of years after both Saturn and Jupiter were first discovered by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, in 1610, and will in fact, be the closest to the Earth the planets have aligned for almost 800 years.

Before the 1610 discovery by Galileo, the planets were believed to just be a bright star, and their discovery, along with the moons that surround Jupiter, indicated for the first time that the earth was not the centre of the solar system. Some have even speculated that this 'star' caused by the alignment was witnessed 2,000 years ago at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ and is the 'Star of Bethlehem' that the Bible states indicated to the wise men that Jesus had been born.

Those proposing the theory that the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter is the 'Star of Bethlehem' includes Professor Eric M Vanden Eykel, of Ferrum College in Virginia, who said that it was possible that the alignment:

"Could be the same astronomical event that the Bible reports led the wise men to Joseph, Mary and the newly born Jesus".

Scientists and astronomers have debated this possibility since as far back as it was first proposed by famed astronomer Joseph Kepler in the early 17th century.

Professor Tim O'Brien, an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester, speaking to BBC News, said:

"Conjunctions are great things to see - they happen fairly often - but [for the planets to be this close] is quite remarkable. The planets will be setting in the south-west, so you need to get out there as soon as the sky is going dark. None of us is going to be around in another 400 years, so just keep an eye on the weather and pop outside if you get the chance."

While the planets will be visible with the naked-eye, those with telescopes will get a much clearer view, and even small home telescopes should give a really clear image of the 'star'.

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Thinking Humanity: The 'Star Of Bethlehem' Returns For The First Time in 400 Years As Jupiter Aligns With Saturn
The 'Star Of Bethlehem' Returns For The First Time in 400 Years As Jupiter Aligns With Saturn
Astronomers and members of the public are preparing for a celestial event that has not occurred in almost 400 years, the alignment of Jupiter and Satu
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