How To See The Bethlehem Star AKA The Rare Christmas Star On December 21

Plus, why it appears in the first placce.

Rare Christmas Star Bethlehem Star Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock

Christmas is always such an exciting and magical holiday, even amid a pandemic.

This season it is about to get even more magical because a rare Christmas star will be making an appearance this month. 

The Christmas star is also called the Bethlehem star and you can view it yourself in the sky on December 21, 2020.

How to see the Bethlehem star AKA the rare Christmas star on December 21

Keep reading for all the details on how to catch a sight of the special Christmas star.


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Why is Bethlehem star appearing this year?

December 21 is an eventful day because it is the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day and longest night of the year.


In addition to the Winter Solstice, there is also going to be the “Great Conjunction,” which is the moment that Jupiter and Saturn seem to be the closest.

In fact, they will be “a tenth of a degree apart.” This will also be the first time that such a close conjunction will take place since 1226, even though conjunctions happen around every 20 years. This will also be the first Jupiter and Saturn conjunction since 2000. 

Jupiter and Saturn will “merge briefly” during this time, which is called a mutual occultation. It is said that the, "the last mutual occultation of Saturn by Jupiter was about 8,000 years ago," and although, "while the two gas giants may appear close, in reality they are hundreds of millions of miles apart."

Jupiter is also brighter than any star and Saturn isn’t as bright but it has a golden color to it.


Saturn is slightly to the east of Jupiter in the sky and it's noticeable because they're both bright and close during this event. Saturn takes almost 30 years to travel around the sun and Jupiter takes almost 12 years. So every 20 years Jupiter catches up to Saturn.

This whole occurrence is called the “Christmas Star” or "Bethlehem Star" because experts believe the “Star of Bethlehem” could have been a rare conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. 

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How can you see the Bethlehem Star?

The Bethlehem star event takes placeon December 21.

It should be noted that, "this will still be quite a striking sight, but you will need to look fast as both planets will set shortly after sunset." 

When you are wanting to see the star, you should look above the southwestern or western horizon after sunset. 

And don't worry: if you miss the event on December 21, you can still see the Bethlehem Star at other times. In fact, you can see the planets as soon as December 16 and 17 but the Bethlehem star will be extra-noticeable from the 20th to the 22nd. 

Sources state, "Throughout the first half of December 2020, you will be able to see these two planets appearing to draw closer together each night. The best time to see them is about an hour after your local sunset time. At Chicago’s latitude, look to the southwest to see two close objects fairly low in the sky. The brighter one is Jupiter. The dimmer one is Saturn."


Have a great time gazing at the Bethlehem star and enjoy it since seeing the Christmas star is such a rare occurence. 

The next "great conjunction" will take place on October 31, 2040.

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Jaycee Levin is a writer, influencer, and blogger living in New York who loves celebrities, fashion, and reality television. She covers news and entertainment for Yourtango. Follow her on Instagram.