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Weather Blog: Jupiter, Saturn line up; a Christmas star to be visible Monday

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Posted at 7:42 AM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 09:17:19-05

Good morning bloggers,

Something quite fascinating is gradually happening between now and Monday night. On the first day of winter, Monday, Dec. 21 we will be able to see something that hasn't happened in around 800 years.

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The two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, have been creeping closer together in our evening sky. On the first night of winter, the Winter Solstice Monday, these two largest planets will line up almost perfectly to look like a bright double planet in the night sky. It still likely won't be as bright as Venus, but it will be close.

On 41 Action News during our 6 p.m. newscast, I showed Jupiter the other night, and already was looking pretty bright, and look closely, and Saturn is right next to Jupiter. The two planets will be so close that they will appear to be touching. When celestial bodies align, astronomers call it a conjunction, but since this one involves our solar system’s two biggest gas giant planets, it is called a "great conjunction." I will be looking for it on our 6 p.m. newscast tonight, but it is Monday when they will line up perfectly.

So, why would it be called the "Christmas Star"? It is because it is happening so close to the Christmas holiday.

The planets will be visible on the southwest horizon after sunset, and dedicated viewers can see them form into alignment over the next week. Though the two planets will look close together by next Monday, they actually will be more than four times the distance between Earth and the sun.

Kansas City Weather

Now, will it be clear so we can see the great conjunction, the Christmas star? YES! Right now it looks clear for Monday evening. Winter begins on Monday at around 4 AM, and this dry weather pattern continues. It hasn't just been dry; KC has been missing all of the snowstorms and most of the rain in the past few months. It has not snowed since October. Take a look at these stats:

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December is normally a dry month anyway, but this is getting a bit ridiculous and there is no rain or snow in sight for us.

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This is not a good trend for this year's LRC. For those of you new to the LRC, named by the bloggers almost 20 years ago, the weather pattern is cycling and regularly. The LRC describes order to what most meteorologists will say is just chaos. It is far from chaos, it is so ordered that the LRC provides us the insight to know when storm systems will strike. Unfortunately, if you live in KC, there are very few storm systems in this pattern that target our region. So, when it is this dry for this long, it is likely going to continue through the winter and into the beginning of spring. As we move deeper into spring I can see ways that this pattern will get a bit wetter. For now, we have been thrust into this dry pattern and there is not a storm in sight.

Since we have blue sky in our meteorological forecast, we can concentrate on astronomy. The dry weather will provide us a lot of clear sky to look for Jupiter and Saturn lining up in the next few days. That is a nice silver lining!

Thank you for spending a few minutes reading the Action Weather Blog. Have a great Thursday.

Gary