Hello! I’m Karl Hricko for United Astronomy Clubs of NJ bringing you
the December Astronomy Update for the WNTI listening area.
It was still there … in the eastern sky; a bright object that seemed to act as a guide for their journey. It was a celestial object or objects that served as a sign of a great event that was to come. It was what we call the “Christmas Star”. The travelers were said to be Wise Men, Magi or Astrologers from the East. They were said to have anticipated the coming birth of someone of a kingly nature, so they traveled with gifts to honor this regal infant
This is the religious narrative, but what about the possibility of examining it from an astronomic perspective? Could it be a star like a nova, or supernova, or maybe a comet or meteor? All of these have been ruled out by astronomers in favor of the regal planet Jupiter - going through a series of conjunctions with stars and other planets. So the motions of Jupiter in connection with some bright stars and other planets may have all contributed to the perception of a “star in the east”.
Although the conditions now are quite different, you may want to look up to the heavens to see Jupiter rising at about 7p.m. in Gemini, as it dominates the night sky. In the meantime looking southwest at dusk, Venus can be seen blazing in Sagittarius. Around midnight, orange Mars rises in Virgo. At dawn, low in the southeast, you’ll find Saturn’s yellow glow in Libra. To its lower left, you can still see Mercury close to the horizon until the end of the month. So whatever is your “Star of Christmas”, may you celebrate the season in good health with those you love.
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