According to an article in Popsugar, something spectacular is about to happen in the sky.  Much like the movie Christmas Vacation, we're about to get our first Christmas star in 800 years.  And, no it's not gas from the water treatment plant like in the movie.

 

So when can we expect to see this extraordinary event in Bismarck Mandan? After all we could use a little Christmas magic as 2020 has certainly been a little bit naughty, and certainly not nice. Looks like on December 21st (the first day of the winter solstice), Jupiter and Saturn will align so closely in the night sky, that they'll appear to be one big giant star from our vantage point here in Bismarck Mandan. This will create a super star in appearance often referred to as the "Star of Bethlehem" or the "Christmas Star." Pretty cool right?! A good bet you'll never witness this again, at least in this life.

So just how rare is this sort of thing?  According to Patrick Hartigan in the article, "Alignments between these two planets are rare, occurring once once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to be to one another."  Hartigan is an astronomer at Rice University.  The last time this happened you would have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4th 1226.

The absolute best time to catch a glimpse of this spectacular sky eye candy will be to the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset.  How much do you want to bet we'll be cloudy that day?  The planets will be at their closest on December 21st, but you'll still be able to see the Christmas star anywhere from Earth for about one hour after sunset in the northern hemisphere for the entire fourth week of December.   So we have a little margin for error.

Get ready to put your hand over your heart and belt out the National Anthem.  Wink Wink!  Merry Christmas Bismarck Mandan and "Play Ball!"


 

 

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