Four days before Christmas, the sky will present a scene not seen since the Middle Ages and perhaps the inspiration for one of the Bible’s most famous stories.
The two largest planets in the Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn, will be so close to each other in the sky on December 21 that they appear to merge into one point of light.
The last time this is thought to have been witnessed was in 1226, according to Michael Shanahan, director of the Planetarium at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey.
“The interesting thing about these long cycles in astronomy is that they go back in very different periods of human history,” Shanahan told TODAY.
“It happened in the Middle Ages in the year 1226 before dawn, so it was about an hour and a half before sunrise to see it.”
What can be seen?
Those in Australia or the rest of the Southern Hemisphere will need to look west at twilight to see the spectacular view.
Jupiter and Saturn will be separated by only 0.1 degrees.
The best way to see it
Make sure you have an unobstructed southwest view of trees or buildings for a little over an hour after sunset. Viewers will also have to hope for clear weather that night as well.
You don’t want to miss it, as Jupiter and Saturn will not appear that close in the sky again until 2080, according to NASA.
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