(NEXSTAR) – If you happen to watch Jupiter and Saturn cozy last month in what some call the “Christmas star,” you may want to look outside this weekend shortly after sunset.
From January 9 to 12, Jupiter and Saturn will be joined by Mercury in the southwestern sky.
The celestial event is known as the “triple connection”, which means that three planets seem to meet each other in the sky for a short period of time. In fact, they are millions of miles apart. Planetary triangle formation is rare, but not as rare as the closer big connection we saw last week, according to the Weather Channel.
Shortly after sunset on January 9, look over the southwest horizon and you will see Mercury to the left of Saturn and Jupiter, located just above Saturn. The window to see the connection will be short.
“From Friday night to Monday night, the planet Mercury will pass first from Saturn and then from Jupiter as it moves away from the horizon, visible every night low in the west-southwest and setting before the end of the evening twilight,”
The southwest sky is where the sun sets at this time of year, so following the path of the sunset will point you in the right direction. The reflected light from the planets should make them look brighter than the surrounding stars.
According to Space.com, all three planets will fit in the field of view of the binoculars. “Mercury and Saturn will be a challenge to see in the evening twilight – except for observers of the southern latitudes, where the sky will darken faster.”
Viewers must find an unobstructed view of the horizon and start watching the stars no later than 45 minutes after sunset.
The planets will form a triple bond again on February 13, according to NASA.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Mars instead of Mercury in the title.
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