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The Great Conjunction: Jupiter, Saturn Align To Create 'The Christmas Star'

NEWCASTLE (CBS13) — It was a Christmas treat for many Monday night who watched history take place right before their eyes.

"Tonight is a special night for us because we will never get to see it again. I'm glad we came out, I'm glad we got to be a part of history," Diana Gray said.

Cars lined the side of Indian Hill Road in Newcastle waiting to get a peek of the two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, coming so close to one another it created what appears to the viewers' eyes as a bright big star. The formation is called a conjunction.

"Right before the clouds came in we got to see it, so that was really exciting," said Alicia Kellie.

Clouds covered the view for some in the Sacramento region, while others got a clear view.

"Saturn and Jupiter come near to one another in the sky once every 20 years but this year is very special. It is very rare for them to get as close as they are this year," said Sacramento State Planetarium Director, Dr. Kyle Watters.

The last time you could see both planets align as bright as tonight was back in 1226. Despite the view from earth, Dr. Watters says the planets aren't as close as they seem.

"It's very much an optical illusion, you look at it and say 'oh my gosh, Saturn is going to crash into Jupiter', no they are millions and millions of miles apart," he explained.

The two planets are being called "The Christmas star."

"I just think it is a fantastic way to celebrate Christmas, by seeing the Christmas star," said Kellie.

Some are comparing the image to The Star of Bethlehem, which is thought to be by some astronomers as a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, similar to how the plants appeared Monday. The planets are lighting up the sky during Winter Solstice, which is the darkest day of the year.

"I'm hoping that maybe this is a sign that 2020 is almost over and that 2021 things will improve quite drastically," said Barry Kellie.

According to Watters, if you missed the planets tonight, you still have a chance to see them for a few days. The two planets will still be in close proximity to one another, however will not be as bright as they appeared on Monday.

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