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Christmas Star: Jupiter-Saturn Great Conjunction on Dec 21 visible in Greece

The planets Jupiter and Saturn will be coming together in a so-called “Great Conjunction” or the “Christmas Star” on Monday, December 21, 2020. Although millions of miles away from each other, they appear to the naked eye like a single, bright star. It is a rare phenomenon that last time it occurred it was 800 years ago.

The phenomenon is expected to be even more impressive thanks to the proximity of Mars.

“All three planets will be visible to the naked eye. We’ll have to hasten to see Jupiter and Saturn, because they will disappear two-and-a-half hours after sunset, though Mars will be visible until midnight,” Stavros Avgoloupis, a professor of observational astronomy at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Saturday.

According to, the phenomenon is called a “great” conjunction because to ancient skywatchers, these were the two slowest moving planets in the sky. Jupiter takes nearly 12 years to describe a full circle in the heavens, spending a year visiting each zodiacal sign in the sky, while Saturn takes 29.5 years to make one full trip around the sun. Because of their respective slow movement, a conjunction or — to the ancients — a “celestial summit meeting,” was rather unusual. Such get-togethers happen, in most cases, about every 20 years on average.

How often do these two planets come as close as that? Some websites say it has been nearly 400 years, while others say it’s been almost 800 years. Indeed, the last time these two planets appeared so close was on July 16, 1623, when they were only 5 arc minutes apart — that’s actually 397 years ago. There is a caveat however, for those living in temperate latitudes, such as New York, Paris or Tokyo, where the two planets were not visible because of their close proximity to the glare of the Sun and low altitude above the horizon.

The “great conjunction” is often dubbed the “Christmas Star” due to the belief that it may account for Biblical references to the “Star of Bethlehem” during the birth of Christ.

“There are many different interpretations of this view, both from theologists studying the scriptures and from astronomers,” said Avgoloupis.

The phenomenon is visible also from Greece, in the South-West sky early evening.

I saw the phenomenon on Dec 11 and it was already amazing and the conjuction was happening left and avove the new moon.

No need to say I’m looking forward to see the “Christmas Star” tomorrow, provided there will be not clouds.

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  1. Lucky you! Would really like to see this conjunction but here in the north, no way. Always cloudy and grey this time of the year. We are lucky if we can see the sun sometimes….

  2. merci pour cet excellent article, plein d’informations, avec des images explicites et claires. hélas, aujourd’hui, très couvert sur les cyclades, et pas de vent…et la météo c’est pas favorable.