Christmas star: UAE sky to shine tonight as Jupiter, Saturn 'unite' after 800 years

Dubai - Dubai Astronomy Group to provide live streaming on YouTube channel and also organise a paid event for public to view spectacle.

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 21 Dec 2020, 9:32 AM

Last updated: Mon 21 Dec 2020, 9:59 AM

Sky watchers in Dubai are in for an end of year treat… as today, the night of the winter solstice, two of the largest planets in the solar system will be seen merging in the UAE night sky.

It is said to be the closest visible conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 800 years.

For the past few months, the two gas giants have been “wooing” each other, inching closer in the western part of the night sky.

Sky gazers in the UAE will have more than two hours on Monday to spot the Christmas Star, that will appear from sunset 5.40pm until 7.49pm.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, a senior member of the Dubai Astronomy Group explained that to experience this opportunity, one needs a high quality telescope.

CEO- Hasan Al Hariri said, “This conjunction will create a bright object in the sky, but to experience this life time opportunity, you need to have a good quality telescope. Jupiter and Saturn will be so close that they will be able to fit in the same telescopic field of view. That’s an incredibly rare occurrence.”

Meanwhile, the Dubai Astronomy Group is providing the live streaming of this event on its YouTube channel and also organising a paid event for public to get the best experience. Interested attendees can pay Dh30 for the observation of the grand celestial event at Mushrif Park, Dubai.

“We can start the observation only after sunset, so we have limited time frame to enjoy this phenomena,” added Hariri.

The Great Conjunction

He later said, “This is a rare and beautiful astronomical phenomena which makes us more connected to the outer planets of our solar system, but there is no astrological significance or meanings of this great conjunction.”

According to the nativity story, the Christmas Star, is also known as the Star of Bethlehem, that led the three wise men to baby Jesus.

Therefore, as the giants lock in an embrace and create a "double planet" effect, astronomers around the world have dubbed this romantic spectacle “The Great Conjunction”.

The planets regularly appear to pass each other in the solar system, with the positions of Jupiter and Saturn apparently being aligned in the sky about once every 20 years.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), the planets have not come this close in centuries. They will be only 0.1 degree apart - which is about the thickness of a dime (a US 10-cent coin) held at arm's length.

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