Coronado is decorated and festive with holiday lights, and on Monday, December 21, 2020, Coronado residents should look to the skies after sunset for a rare sighting of the bright “Christmas Star.”
The “Christmas Star” isn’t actually a star – it occurs when Jupiter and Saturn are so close to each other that they appear as a single, bright light. The planets will still be hundreds of millions of miles apart, but they appear close because of their position in orbit. This alignment of the planets was last witnessed in 1226 – almost 800 years ago. Astronomers believe there might have been a “Christmas Star” in 1623, but it occurred during sunlight hours so was not visible.
Astronomers named this rare alignment of planets the “Christmas Star” as it might have been what’s referred to as the Star of Bethlehem that guided the three wise men to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. While there is some scientific debate if this planet alignment occurred during the year of Jesus’ birth, the event continues to be commonly referred to as the “Christmas Star.”
Viewers wishing to see the ‘star’ should look southwest during the hour after the 4:47pm sunset on December 21, 2020. It will appear like a bright, still airplane, but will not be as bright as the moon. The ‘star’ will be low in the horizon so viewers will need a site unobstructed by trees or buildings. Coronado North Beach, Central Beach, and Shores Beach should provide excellent viewing locations. AccuWeather’s current forecast for the afternoon of December 21 shows mostly sunny skies with 21% cloud cover.