There has been some talk on social media that the Star of Bethlehem will appear in the western sky just before Christmas. From EarthSky.org, “We’re getting lots of questions in 2020 about a rumor that’s floating around, that the planets Jupiter and Saturn will appear as “one star” around the time of their great conjunction on December 21. Many are heralding them as a Christmas Star and comparing them to the Star of Bethlehem.
It’s true that Jupiter is the brightest starlike object in the evening sky now, and Jupiter and Saturn are drawing closer and closer together. On December 21, they’ll be separated by only 0.1 degree and visible from around the globe in the western twilight sky.
The short answer here is that Jupiter and Saturn will certainly be exceedingly close and will look unusual. Many will correctly perceive them as two planets. They’ll be spectacular to see! But one star?
However for the most part, the experts we asked said, no, Jupiter and Saturn will not appear as a single object to the eye, to a person with reasonably good eyesight, around the time of their December 21, 2020, conjunction. They simply won’t be close enough.
The Journal ventured out to take a look for ourselves. There is just too much light clutter, trees, or other factors that make it possible to see the planets. We did learn Thursday night what the song means with the line “On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.”