Star of Bethlehem: Redux

Astronomers are generally agreed that the new star in the sky that sent Bathazar, Caspar and Melchior off from the their homelands in the East to Bethlehem was – according to all rational scientific probability – a Great Conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

What makes it a bit more interesting – to some folk at any rate – is that this conjunction happens every twenty years or so but it hasn’t been seen in the UK for around 800 years. Other things have got in the way . . . the sun; the moon, the earth itself (someone else can see it, but we can’t)

Just a couple of planets violating Social Distancing requirements? Not to worry; Saturn will be around 456 million miles further away from us than Jupiter. I’m sure there’s a word for that very-near-and-yet-so-far-away thing – it’s just not in my vocabulary.


Jupiter (Bringer of Jollity) and Saturn (Bringer of Old Age)
Image courtesy of Kabsik Park/CC BY 2.0/Flickr


But as it hasn’t been seen in the UK for nigh on 800 years it seems worth the effort – cloud cover permitting – to put your cost on and get out to look at this natural wonder. Though, while we’re on the subject of outer wear, you’ll probably appreciate a woolly hat and a pair of gloves. If you can see the event it will mean a clear sky and, where I come from, clear skies at this time of year usually mean a 5 degree drop in temperature. Oh – and its been really wet, so wear your wellies.

The conjunction can be seen from tonight until the 23rd, though the best day is Monday 21st (Winter Solstice!). The weather forecast for Monday in the South West is pretty dismal and, as I haven’t got a hot-air balloon to hand, it looks like I need to be out late tomorrow afternoon -around 5.30pm if I’m to get a chance to bear witness.

The planets will be in the SouthWest, a little to the right of the crescent moon, if my sources are correct.

Finally- and this is important: it will also take place at almost zero elevation, so right down low on the horizon. You’ll need a hill to stand on – or the keys to a flat-top roof.

And that’s it, really. An event that will be unique in all our lifetimes. it seems a shame to waste it.


Unless you are of a mystical bent, of course . . .

. . . in which case you might like to ponder on the likely meaning of a Jupiter-Saturn Conjunct in the House of Aquarius occuring on the Winter Solstice . . . at an almost zero elevation.

Powerful forces coming together there, my friends!


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About John Bullock

John Bullock is the editor of The Light Review

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