What a year of celestial happenings! From Comet Neowise to Mars close encounter............on & on..........Now to the "Christmas Star" which happens to be visible on the Winter Solstice on the night of the Ursid Meteor Shower. Very interesting! Very interesting year too!
The "Great Conjunction begins tonight at sunset. Saturn & Jupiter will be just 0.1 degree apart.
These occur about every 20 years, but they are rarely this visible as the sun's glare hides them. This time it will occur comfortably away from the sun.
Just think about it. The last time this Great Conjunction was this visible was 1226. In our area at that time was a wilderness of marshes, swamps, prairies, barrens, savannas & forests. Massive Beaver Lake covered the northern half of Newton County & the Kankakee was basically like the Everglades....a massive shallow river miles wide flowing through grassy marshes & wooded swamps. It was truly wild with Native American villages dotting the area, especially along the Wabash. Wolves, elk, black bears, cougars, bison............all of these wild animals were roaming the area & being hunted by our Native American people. Prairie chickens numbers in the millions & massive roosts of the now-extinct Passenger Pigeons were around. Waterfowl by the tens of millions were found in the massive marshes over the area & the now-extinct Eskimo Curlew (larger bird related to sandpipers with a long curved beak) was still native to the prairies & marshes around Chalmers (where it was sited when Europeans began to arrive).
Also, it appears that the Star of Bethlehem was also one of these events.
They saw the same "star" or "Great Conjuction".
The bad news? Clouds will obscure it this evening unless you are way down in the southwest part of the viewing area around Covington.
The good news?
1. It will be visible tomorrow evening (even through veil of milky cirrostratus).
2. It will actually be the BRIGHTEST or at PEAK on December 25 or Christmas evening & very, very close to peak on Christmas Eve! It should be much more visible then with more in the way of clear skies.
3. This conjunction will continue until January 7, then the two gradually separate.
Look WEST at sunset to dusk now to January 7!