Things to be Happy About #16: The “Christmas Star” aka. “The Great Conjunction”
It’s likely you’ve seen images like this on Christmas cards. The bright light in the sky is called “Christmas Star” aka “The Great Conjunction.” In songs and biblical texts, it is the “star of wonder.” It is doubtful that the Christmas Star was around at the time of the birth of Jesus since it is estimated that he was born between 6 and 4 BC and there are few reliable records. But the idea that a star appeared to guide the so-called wise men makes a nice holiday story. Some say that there might have even been a supernova or a triple conjunction “way back when.”
On December 21, 2020, a Great Conjunction did appear. I witnessed it. I also took photos. It was awe-inspiring. #16 in my “Things to be Happy About” series is: The Christmas Star.
Not a Star at All:
Actually, the so-called Christmas Star isn’t a star at all. It’s made by two planets in our Solar System and it’s called ” A Great Conjunction.” This happens when the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn appear close together when viewed from Earth. On Dec. 21, the planets appeared so close together they almost looked like one point of light to the unaided eye.
Jupiter and Saturn Get Cozy:
While Jupiter and Saturn may appear close in the night sky, they aren’t going to collide because they’re really not that close together. The planets are still roughly 400-million miles apart. Our viewpoint from Earth is what makes the planets look like they are touching, it is also what makes this event so rare. A Great Conjunction happens every 20 years, but the last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close was the year 1623.”
What Happened in 1226?
You would have to go back 794 years to 1226 to find a visible Great Conjunction like the one on Dec. 21. To put it in perspective, in 1620 the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Bay and in 1621 Genghis Khan was the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire! So if you missed the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020, you will have to wait until 2080 to catch another Great Conjunction with both planets this close together.
Once In A Lifetime Special Event:
Some of you might be alive in 2080, but most of us will not and I certainly won’t! That’s why I was so excited and happy about the big event on December 21st, 2020.
On December 21st my husband and I went out to the boardwalk that leads to the beach on Longboat Key Florida. I was thinking I’d actually set up a tripod in the sand where it was dark but quickly realized that I wouldn’t gain anything much and I didn’t want to get sand in the Olympus M5 Mark III camera with a very large Olympus 100-400 lens. The lens was so large it tipped my flimsy tripod, so I had to hold the camera steady with this huge lens, with just my hands.
We left about 15 minutes before sunset and waited. Soon, we could see the Great Conjunction happening in the sky. All you really could see were two points of light, but it was beautiful to see. There were lots of people trying to take photos with their camera phones, but to really see the planets, you needed a very big lens.
I took these photos of the moon and the great conjunction. In truth I spent so much time trying to aim the camera at the right spot and hold it steady, I missed some of the beauty of the two planets moving together, but eventually, I just put down the camera and gazed at the sky.
Things To Be Happy About!
When you consider how unique an experience the great conjunction is, I can’t help but wonder at the miracles around us. So #16 in my ongoing “Things to be Happy About” series is — the Christmas Star/Great Conjunction. Another thing to be happy about? December 21st is the Winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. After this date, the days begin to get longer again.
What Makes You Happy?
If you have read this far and you like this series, would you share a comment and let us know? Be a part of this ‘Things to be Happy About” series, and send me a paragraph about something that makes you happy. Comment, or tweet @advicesisters (https://twitter.com/advicesisters) #TTBHA. If you want to comment or participate but not on a public forum, contact the advice sisters by email.