The planets of Jupiter and Saturn are aligning in the sky at their closest point on Monday, December 21, 2020, our Winter Solstice. The astronomical term for this occurrence is a “conjunction of planets,” but it is also referred to as the “Christmas Star.”
In Cincinnati, there are lots of places to observe this phenomenon. Here’s the lowdown on where to see the Winter Solstice Christmas Star in Cincinnati:
The best viewing time will be 45 minutes after sunset in the west/southwest sky. For reference, the sunset on December 21 will be 5:19 pm — so prime viewing will be shortly after 6 pm.
Great Parks has multiple viewing areas in various parks throughout Hamilton County to see the star, which will be viewable through Christmas day:
|Shawnee Lookout||Waterhole Meadow||2008 Lawrenceburg Rd||Shawnee Lookout|
|Embshoff Woods||Riverbirch Shelter||4050 Paul Rd||Embshoff Woods|
|Fernbank Park||Riverview Shelter||50 Thornton Ave||Fernbank Park|
|Miami Whitewater Forest||Harbor Overlook & Shaker Trace Horse Lot||9001 Mt Hope Rd||Miami Whitewater Forest|
|Mitchell Memorial Forest||Playground||5401 Zion Rd||Mitchell Memorial Forest|
|Winton Woods||Elmridge Overlook||10245 Winton Rd||Winton Woods|
|Francis RecreAcres||Soccer Fields||11982 Conrey Rd||Francis RecreAcres|
|Woodland Mound||Western Shelter||8250 Old Kellogg Rd||Woodland Mound|
|Otto Armleder Memorial Park||Soccer Fields||5057 Wooster Pike||Otto Armleder Memorial Park|
A Great Parks Vehicle Permit is required for entry. Permits are $5/day.
The alignment occurs every 20 years, but this year will be the closest the two planets have appeared together in the last 400 years — and the closest you can actually see the event in 800 years. Talk about a literal bright spot in an otherwise dark year.
Photo credit: NASA