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The Christmas Star
If you are a sky watcher like me, this December 21, 2020, is a great time to be watching because it will be a once in a lifetime occurrence. December 21, is the time of the winter solstice and this year Jupiter and Saturn will be closer together than they have been in 800 years. They line up every twenty years but not usually this close. They call it the “Great Conjunction” which is the moment that Jupiter and Saturn will be closest together. The two will be a tenth of a degree apart. Of course, the planets are still thousands and thousands of miles apart but from our viewpoint they will look like one large star. This will also be the first time such a close conjunction has been observable since 1226 A.D. At that time Genghis Khan was conquering much of Asia so it has been awhile.
Many are referring to this Great Conjunction as “The Christmas Star” because it is happening during the Christmas season.
Scientists tell us that this will be an amazing sight but we will need to be watching because both planets will set shortly after sunset. We will need to look above the southwestern or western horizon just after sunset so it seems there won’t be much time to view it. It’s a good idea to plan to watch before December 21st because the planets can be seen on December 16th and 17th. However, the star will be the brightest on December 20 through 22 with December 21st being the brightest of all.
The “star” can be viewed from any position on earth if the sky is clear but the best view will be on December 21, so take a break from whatever you are doing this Christmas season and watch because they are telling us that this won’t happen again until March 15, 2080. I’m thinking most of us won’t be here to view the star in 2080, so this is your big chance.
Johannes Kepler, in the 1600s was the first to study orbital mechanics and was able to trace back to other such occurrences. Kepler’s mathematics showed a triple conjunction happening in 7 B.C. Some astronomers think that the Star of Bethlehem in the Bible may have been a rare triple conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus while others think a supernova around 5 B.C. is a possible explanation.
I wonder, especially at Christmas time, about the Star that led the wise men to the Christ child. We wonder if it could have been a cluster of planets, a comet, or a supernova but we don’t know and even the Bible doesn’t tell us. Of course, God can use natural laws to carry out His will but the appearance of the star could also have been a supernatural occurrence. Were the wise men the only ones to see the star? King Herod had to ask about the star so he evidently had not seen it. (Matthew 2:7) If it was a natural occurrence, others surely would have seen it.
There is much that we don’t know or understand but we do know that God can do extraordinary things. There were often times God used the skies for His purposes. He led the children of Israel through the wilderness by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. (Exodus 13:12) That was pretty extraordinary.
The wise men were searching for the Christ child and they found him. The Lord said in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”
It is exciting to look for the star on December 21, but more important to seek Him. Wise men still seek Him.
“The heavens declare the glory of God
Contributed by Pamela Perry Blaine