Here’s how you can see the rare 'Christmas Star' in SA skies tonight

According to Nasa, Jupiter and Saturn will be doing a planetary dance that will result in the Great Conjunction on Monday evening.

Jupiter and Saturn as set to align in the 'greatest of all great conjunctions' on 21 December. Picture: Twitter @NASA

JOHANNESBURG – As we continue to practice social distancing, these two planets are gearing up for an up close and personal spectacle.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), Jupiter and Saturn will be doing a planetary dance that will result in the Great Conjunction on Monday evening.

Jupiter and Saturn will be right next to each other in the sky – the closest they have appeared in nearly 400 years!

The two planets will inch closer to each other until they’re only a tenth of a degree apart in the night sky, which is roughly the same thickness as a coin, according to Nasa. They will be visible nearly an hour after sunset in the southwestern sky.

Even though Jupiter and Saturn will be 400 million miles apart, they’ll create a radiant point of light in the night sky from Earth’s point of view.

This phenomenon is being called the ‘Christmas Star’ or the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ due to the proximity of the event to Christmas.

Jupiter and Saturn align every 20 years or so, the event is dubbed the ‘great conjunction’. But, this year is the first time they’ll be lining up in the month of December and it’s the closest the planets have been since 1623.

Nasa said it's the ‘greatest’ of all great conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn. Astronomers and sky gazers will be able to see the two giant planets and their moons within the same field of view by just using a telescope or a pair of binoculars.

HOW TO SEE THIS PHENOMENON:

Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.

An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky.

Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible.

Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until 21 December, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.

The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.