See the Christmas Star!

On Dec. 21st you will have the opportunity to see the “Christmas Star,” the likes of which has not happened for 800 years!

The Christmas Star occurs when both Jupiter and Saturn line up in such a way that they appear, to us on earth, to be one larger, much brighter star. Though they will appear very close together, they are in fact separated by hundreds of millions of miles of deep space.

Some people rightly call this phenomenon the “Star of Bethlehem!”

“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” — Matthew 2:2

Astronomy experts note that the last time this very perfect alignment occurred, and was visible from earth, was during March 1226. Though, a less-perfect and not-as-bright alignment happens once every 20 years or so.To see the Christmas Star from La Jolla, point your telescope (or your keen eye) to the southwest portion of the sky around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 21st. It may also be visible in similar fashion for a few nights surrounding the 21st. For the best view, do try to escape the city lights, or at least try to make your way to Mt. Soledad.

If you’d like to get a headstart on the stargazing this month, you can feast your eyes on the brilliant Geminid meteor shower expected in mid-December.

Students may be interested to know that the top five U.S. universities for studying astronomy are:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University
  • University of California, Berkeley