The Canadian Space Agency's picture of the Venus and Jupiter conjunction.
The Canadian Space Agency's picture of the Venus and Jupiter conjunction.

Planets align in 'star of Bethlehem' experience

AN extremely rare planetary alignment which may have explained the Biblical star of Bethlehem has appeared in our sky.

The brightest planet (Venus) and the largest planet (Jupiter) appeared so close together on Sunday night, August 29, it may have looked like they were touching in some parts of the world.

Wappa Falls Observatory's Owen Bennedick said we wouldn't be seeing this planetary alignment in that configuration again "for thousands of years".

"On Sunday, they were the closest together," Mr Bennedick said.

 

Owen Bennedick from the Wappa Falls Observatory prepares his telescope for a possible sighting of a meteor shower.
Owen Bennedick from the Wappa Falls Observatory prepares his telescope for a possible sighting of a meteor shower. Warren Lynam

"In America or Europe they would have seemed extremely close, they would have been only half a degree apart and we won't be seeing that for thousands of years."

While they may appear close together at the moment, Venus and Jupiter are actually more than 800 million kilometres apart.

Observers have linked the unusual planetary alignment to a scientific explanation for the Biblical star of Bethlehem, which led as the planets were in a similar position in August 1BC.

Mr Bennedick did not believe this theory as he believed the star of Bethlehem to be a "supernatural event".

Either way, the alignments of the planet make for spectacular viewing and may only be able to be seen for a few more nights.

Mr Bennedick said Jupiter and Venus did a "crossover" on Sunday, August 29, but could still be viewed in the western evening sky until Thursday (August 31).

There was also a chance to see Saturn, Mars and Antarius in their brilliance at the moment.

"For the last month above our heads Saturn, Mars and Antarius have been doing a merry dance," Mr Bennedick said.

"With one of the telescopes at our Observatory you can seen the rings and the moons of Saturn and the moons around Jupiter.

"Mars is red, Saturn is yellow and together they look very pretty."


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