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Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, dubbed 'Christmas Star,' visible tonight – Todayville.com

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EDMONTON — A rare celestial event is making an already unique holiday season even more unusual, as what’s been dubbed the “Christmas Star” is set to appear over Canada on Monday evening, brighter than it’s been in nearly eight centuries.

It’s not really a star at all — it’s a convergence of Jupiter and Saturn — but because of their close proximity they will appear to the naked eye to be one, single bright star.

For the last few weeks, the two planets have appeared nearer and nearer in the night sky, and will be at their closest on Dec. 21, appearing above the southwest horizon shortly after sunset.

“It’s a sense of anticipation, which of course, is what Christmas is all about, that waiting. And here we’re waiting for those planets to almost merge in the sky,” said astronomer and physicist Brian Martin, a professor emeritus at King’s University, a Christian institution in Edmonton.

“It captures the sense of what it’s like to be waiting for the birth of Christ and to celebrate that on the 25th of December.”

Every year around this time, Stephen Jeans, who teaches earth and space science at Ambrose University, another Christian institution in Calgary, delivers a “Star of Bethlehem” lecture for the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation, a fellowship of Christian scientists.

The lecture, which isn’t being held this year due to COVID-19, focuses on the star that the Magi, or the Three Wise Men, followed to Bethlehem, and what astronomical event it possibly could have been.

There’s some who speculate it was a comet, but Jeans said those are typically bad omens, so he suggests it may have been a conjunction of planets similar to what’s on display now.

“The nice thing about this is it can be seen across the country at the same time,” Jeans explained.

“You’re going to have the opportunity to see the same event that all your friends and relatives will see: a really large double planet that looks like the Christmas star.”

The last time there was such a convergence of Jupiter and Saturn was in the 17th Century, but it wasn’t visible at night. You have to go back to March 4, 1226, that the conjunction was seen by people.

Martin notes that in 2 BCE, there was a conjunction between Jupiter and Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, which the Magi may have been following.

Jupiter was the Roman god of sky and thunder while Leo, the lion, is king of the beasts.

“If you saw the king of the gods circling around the king star, Regulus, in the constellation Leo, that would get your attention of you were an astrologer,” Martin said.

“It’s kind of interesting that we have this wonderful conjunction right now in one of the darkest Christmases we’ve experienced, and just before the birth of Christ there was this amazing conjunction of three kings, in a sense bowing before one another.”

Stargazers typically gather in groups at observatories or with backyard telescopes for such events, but that won’t be happening this year due to COVID-19.

There’s also the chance the conjunction won’t be visible because of the weather. Clouds, heavy snow, or rain are in the forecast for many Canadian cities. The planets will still be visible on Tuesday night, but by then they will be moving apart.

Jeans said to look south between where the moon is visible and the sun just set. He said if you bring your cellphone, you can call friends and family and look at it at the same time.

“It only lasts about an hour and then the ‘Christmas Star’ will follow the sun and set itself in the west.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2020.

Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press

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SpaceX's first 'rideshare' mission will launch a record number of satellites – Yahoo Movies Canada

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Swimming Australia eyes Plan B in case of Tokyo cancellation

Swimming Australia has started discussions about a replacement domestic or virtual international competition for its athletes in case the Tokyo Olympics are cancelled, president Kieren Perkins said. Perkins, who won gold medals at the 1992 and 1996 Games, was delighted that Friday’s “little moment of panic” had been firmly quashed but felt he owed it to Australia’s swimmers to put a contingency plan in place. “If the worst happens and Tokyo is cancelled, for our athletes who have had the opportunity to prepare and work so hard for so long to get to this moment, I think it behoves us to give them the best chance to at least test themselves and see what that work has created,” he told the Australian newspaper.

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Elon Musk's Starlink satellite service is being beta tested in BC – BC News – Castanet.net

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[embedded content]

It may come as a shock to some but only 36 per cent of rural households in British Columbia have access to reliable high-speed internet service.

That is changing, however, thanks to Elon Musk’s Starlink, satellite internet is now available, depending on where you live.

Starlink is a new high-speed internet service provided by U.S.-based SpaceX, which has launched nearly 900 satellites into a low-Earth orbit over the past year.

If you live within the right coordinates you can now apply to be part of Starlink’s satellite internet beta testing program.

  • Province Latitudes (°N)
  • Alberta 49.0 – 51.5
  • British Columbia 48.4 – 51.7
  • Manitoba 49.0 – 51.1
  • New Brunswick 45.3 – 47.6
  • Nova Scotia 45.0 – 46.0
  • Ontario 43.1 – 51.0
  • Saskatchewan 49.6 – 50.7

Once approved, users can purchase the necessary hardware which costs $649 for the satellite dish and $129 per month.

SpaceX began the public beta program in October and some subscribers are reporting service speeds of up to 150Mbps. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission granted Starlink’s operator, SpaceX, a Basic International Telecommunications Service license in October 2020. The license allows SpaceX to provide telecommunication services in Canada but does not allow the company to operate as an internet service provider.

SpaceX has said it will cost U.S. $10 billion or more to build the network but industry analysts have estimated that Starlink could earn as much as $30 billion a year once it is fully operational.

The Starlink satellites float at low-Earth orbit, which cuts down on signal latency and allows the satellites to return to earth with greater ease once they’re decommissioned.

Stargazers have expressed concern that the satellites could obscure the view of the night sky.

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How to watch SpaceX launch over 100 satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket tomorrow – CNET

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spacexspaceforceoct2020

SpaceX shared this scenic view of a Falcon 9 awaiting launch.


SpaceX

SpaceX will transform one of its Falcon 9 rockets into the space equivalent of a crowded Uber when it launches its Transporter-1 ride-share mission from Cape Canaveral in Florida as soon as Saturday.

The payload for this mission includes a cornucopia of small satellites from government and commercial entities, along with 10 of SpaceX’s own Starlink broadband satellites.

We learned Thursday that the cargo will include 48 SuperDove satellites for Planet Labs, reportedly bringing the total to a record-breaking 133 satellites in a single launch.

SpaceX itself has not yet confirmed the official number of satellites in the ride-share payload. There’s been some last-minute shifting around after two DARPA satellites were accidentally damaged earlier this month at a processing facility. The Starlink satellites were also a last-minute addition. The payload includes several small spacecraft from Nanoracks and more from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the US Department of Defense and many others.

The launch was originally scheduled for December, but has been postponed a handful of times.

The Falcon 9 booster will be making its fifth flight and is expected to land on a droneship stationed in the Atlantic not long after flight. SpaceX is also likely to attempt to recover the fairing, or nose cone, a move that’s becoming a more routine part of each mission.

The launch is set for as early as 6:40 a.m. PT (9:40 a.m. ET). The entire mission will be livestreamed as usual by SpaceX. You can follow along below starting about ten minutes before launch.

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.  

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