The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn: What to expect

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — If you’ve been seeing posts on social media about The Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, which will happen on December 21, you might be expecting a bright object in the sky similar to the Star of Bethlehem.

If you’re expecting that, you might be disappointed. News 2 reached out to Dr. Billy Teets, the Outreach Astronomer and Acting Director at Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory.

According to Dr. Teets, the conjunction will not be as bright as many online posts may have to believe, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be impressive.

“So, this is not going to be all of a sudden on the 21st; we see this incredibly bright object over in the Western sky,” said Dr. Teets.

For many Middle Tennesseans, you may not see an event like this again in your lifetime, so it’s worth heading outside on December 21 to view it.

Jupiter and Saturn’s position through Dec. 21

“For a lot of folks seeing a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn like this is going to be a once in a lifetime event because the next one like this one is going to be 60 years from now. So, even though it may be cold outside, definitely go out and take a look because you may not get to see it again,” said Dr. Teets.

Comparisons to the North Star, also known as the Star of Bethlehem, are prevalent, but there’s still a lot of debate about the North Star in the scientific community.

“I think that there is a lot of debate as to what that might’ve been. Some folks have been trying to investigate if maybe that was a supernova that had occurred. Others were wondering, well, maybe it could have been a conjunction of two very bright planets. You know, maybe it could have been something else. We honestly don’t know,” said Dr. Teets.

Dr. David Weintraub, a professor of astronomy at Vanderbilt University, will be doing a live discussion Tuesday at 7 p.m. for those who want to know more about the North Star. You can go to Dyer Observatory’s homepage for the link to this discussion.

If you plan to watch the Conjunction, Dr. Teets has some advice.

“Make sure that you go out right after sunset. I’d say probably start around 5 O’clock and make sure you have a good, clear view of the Western Southwestern horizon. And once you find Jupiter, Saturn is going to be incredibly close to it. So, it may take you a minute. You may have to squint may have to get some binoculars, but if you look hard enough, you should be able to find it.”

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