Courtesy Mark RyanWhen I was a kid I remember my dad would like to point out that the word "syzygy" was one of very few multi-syllabic words that didn't contain any of the "normal" vowels.
Courtesy Mark RyanThe definition in an astronomical sense is when three or more celestial bodies in the same gravitational system line up in essentially a straight line. One example would be the Sun, Moon, and Earth during an eclipse. Another may be the phenomenon that was visible in the western sky just after dusk today.
Courtesy Makr RyanHere are four photographs I shot of the alignment of the Moon with the planets Jupiter and Venus. I don't know if the celestial alignment is technically a syzgy but the word has stuck with me and I'm still waiting to use it in a game of Scrabble.
Courtesy Mark RyanPLEASE NOTE: From my vantage point the event was happening right in a flight path for the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport so aircraft kept flying through the frame. That's what all the streaks and extra lights in the photos are. The exposures were long, ranging between 6 and 15 seconds, and I used a timer so as not to shake the camera during each exposure. Timing the shutter with the aircraft was tricky but I got a few good ones.
Two of the brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, appear very close together tonight. Tomorrow night (Dec 1) they will be joined by the crescent moon around 6 pm (CDT) to make an "unhappy face".
"This is set to be the best planetary gathering of the year, simply because it involves three of the brightest objects in the sky after the sun," said Geza Gyuk, director of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. National Geographic.
How might a scientists explain the "Star of Bethlehem" story? A search of the internet yielded some interesting information. Both Chinese and Babylonians note a 5 BC object that lasted about ten weeks and a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Pisces around 7 BC.
In 3-2 BC, there was a series of seven conjunctions (stars appearing close together), including three between Jupiter and Regulus and on June 17, 2 BC Jupiter and Venus came together so close that to most people they would seem to be a single very bright star. Wikipedia
On August 27, 2 BC, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn would have all been together in the same part of the sky just before sunrise. For the magi or wisemen, who used the planets' movements amongst the constellations to foretell of the coming of a new king or Messiah, there were enough striking events transpiring in 2 B.C. that they would have felt that the year was being singled out for their special attention.
If you wish to learn more, here are three sources I found usefull:
If you read through these references, I would be interested in hearing what you think in the comments.