'Once in a lifetime' — Jupiter, Saturn to appear at their closest in almost 400 years tonight

Source: 1News

Jupiter and Saturn will appear at their closest in almost 400 years tonight, with would-be Kiwi stargazers advised to look at the western horizon shortly after sunset to see the celestial phenomenon.

Known as a Great Conjunction, the two planets will be visibly close from Saturday through to Wednesday, but they will appear closest tonight.

“If you look low on the western horizon just to the right of where the sun sets, about half an hour or so after sunset, then you should get a great view – weather permitting of course,” Stardome Observatory & Planetarium’s John Rowe said.

“The planets will appear to sink quite quickly so are only going be visible for about an hour and a half each of the four evenings.  Perfect timing for the kids to see before bedtime too.”

The celestial phenomenon occurs because the planets are in line as viewed from Earth. 

“The Great Conjunction refers to a time when the two largest planets in the solar system pass close to each other in the sky as viewed from Earth.

“This is extremely exciting because it is the closest the two planets have appeared since 1623. And given the next time Jupiter and Saturn will be this close is 2080 — 60 years from now — this really is a rare once in a lifetime experience for most people.”