This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A rare cosmic occurrence took place Monday evening as Jupiter passed by Saturn, the closest it had in the night sky in 800 years. Some have deemed the conjunction of the two planets “The Christmas Star.”

On Quality Hill, overlooking Kansas City’s West Bottoms, one man sounded a shofar at first sighting, just as the sun set over Kansas City. For some, the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn had religious significance. 

“Because 2,000 years ago, there was the star in the East that the Maggii followed to find Jesus,” Wendi Nield said. 

According to Patrick Hess, a specialist at Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium, a great conjunction similar to 2020 occurred in 7 B.C. Others just wanted to be a part of something they will likely never see again. 

“Once-in-a-lifetime planetary eclipse, best place to see it right here over the city,” Forrest Muelbach said.

The conjunction wasn’t quite an eclipse of the two planets. That’s not scheduled to happen until Valentine’s Day in the year 7541. Instead, Saturn hovered just above Jupiter, something people could see more clearly with their telescopes. In the midst of a pandemic, Nield was still willing to share the rare sight. 

“I know if I were out here without a telescope I’d want someone to share their telescope with me,” she said.

“I thought, ‘Oh I’ll just be seeing a little sparkling in the sky,’ and instead I got to see two planets and rings and moons,” said Katie Stover, describing Saturn’s rings and the five moons around Jupiter that were visible. 

Planets pass by each other more than you might think. Mars passed both Jupiter and Saturn this year as it revolved around the sun, and Jupiter actually passes Saturn every 20 years though usually not as close.

So why all the buzz on Monday that even had Google changing its logo?

The hashtag Christmas Star certainly played a part, but in a year where everyone is looking for entertainment or perhaps signs of change, astronomers certainly are happy to see people stop and enjoy the view. 

“It’s a great opportunity for people to start thinking about astronomy and having an interest in the night sky. I always want to take an opportunity to tell people why these events are so cool even if it’s not exactly as you imagine,” Hess said. 

You can still see Jupiter and Saturn fairly close to each other early Tuesday evening in the southwestern sky as they begin to move farther away from one another.