Monday brings winter solstice, very rare astronomical event

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News

Monday we not only welcome winter with the solstice but also a very rare astronomical event.

“This year December belongs to Jupiter and Saturn,” Deanne Morrison writes in the University of Minnesota’s Starwatch column. “The two giant planets put on a show just before they drop over the horizon, on their way to the morning sky.

“And what a show it is. On the 21st, Jupiter and Saturn make their closest approach since 1623. Jupiter, with its higher orbital speed, glides just 0.1 degrees—about one-fifth of a moon width— below Saturn. Because this happens in early morning, when Jupiter and Saturn aren’t visible, the evening of either the 20th or the 21st will be the best time to look. The two planets will be so close that through a small telescope they, along with many of their moons, will fit into a single field of view.”

Some people have asked if it is possible this conjunction creates “The Star of Bethlehem” that guided the three wise men to the place of Jesus Christ’s birth. Maybe...


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