'Star of Bethlehem' will shine bright above the south of Spain tonight

Observers of the night sky gather in Malaga. File photograph.
Observers of the night sky gather in Malaga. File photograph. / SUR
  • The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which will appear almost as if they were a single planet, will reach its maximum today and should be clearly seen across Andalucía

A rare sight that will not be repeated for several decades, the vision of two giants of the solar system - Jupiter and Saturn - almost superimposed and appearing as one will shine brightly over Spain tonight.

The phenomenon where the planets appear so close is sometimes called the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ because of its coincidence with the Christmas dates

From 6.30 to 7.30pm, as long as the skies remain clear, if you look in the southwest you should see Jupiter with Saturn slightly above.

“This is what is called a great conjunction, where the Earth and the other two planets are in an almost perfect alignment, in a maximum approximation, as it had not happened since the 13th century,” explained Alberto Castro-Tirado, an astrophysicist from from the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics.

He said that the sight on Sunday was “spectacular” but Monday’s great conjunction should be the zenith.

“Since I have had access to telescopes with my hobby that later became my profession, I have never been able to contemplate two giants of the solar system in the same field of vision", said the scientist who still uses the same telescope that he has kept since he was 16-years-old.