Clouds Blocked Brits From Seeing Saturn And Jupiter’s ‘Christmas Star’ Last Night

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 22 Dec 2020 09:43
Clouds Blocked Brits From Seeing Saturn And Jupiter's 'Christmas Star' Last NightPA

Terrible British weather is forever ruining our plans, including trying to spot last night’s ‘Christmas Star’.

Yesterday, December 21, the once-in-a-lifetime star was visible for budding stargazers to see – everywhere but the UK, apparently.


Occurring around once every 800 years, the ‘star’ isn’t actually a star but the moment Jupiter and Saturn come into close proximity to one another, causing a ‘double planet’ phenomenon that causes them to appear as one, bright star.

Growth of the solar system - presumably three new planetsPA Images

While the moment they cross over – named the ‘great conjunction’ – happens every 20 years, last night would have been one of the extremely rare occasions that the two planets within 0.1 degrees of each other.

However, disappointed Brits were left unable to see the rare phenomenon for themselves due to cloud coverage. Typical.


Jupiter and Saturn were closest to each other at 6.37pm GMT last night, and a small crowd gathered in Wiltshire, UK, in the hopes of seeing it for themselves, but they were left extremely disappointed.


Wilf Somogyi, astrophysics group member at University College London, told The Guardian:

I cannot see anything at all, which is a bit of a shame. I had a look at the cloud coverage map and it looks like everywhere is covered in a cloud this evening. It could be seen last night and the planets will still be close together for the next few nights.

Some people may have seen it last night. There are other opportunities. They get close together and reach their closest point and then separate.


Meanwhile, David Weintraub, an astronomy professor at Vanderbilt University, explained why some people may have found the ‘Christmas star’ viewing as ‘misleading’.

Spectacular Meteor Shower Will Peak Tonight And Be Lit Up By New MoonPA Images

He said, ‘I think one thing that is a bit misleading for people is, well there has been so much interest in tonight as this is when they are officially at conjunction, so closest together. But with the naked eye, without a telescope, they are not going to be further apart when you see them tomorrow’.

With that in mind, he assured people that they should be able to still see the rare occasion another night this week and that it ‘won’t look any different’ to that of last night’s conjunction.


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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Science, Astronomy, Jupiter, Saturn, Stargazing


The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    Clouds spoil UK's view of Saturn and Jupiter's 'great conjunction'