Washington, Nov 26 : A celestial treat awaits avid skywatchers across the world on December 1, when a "unhappy face" will form in the evening skies, by the convergence of Venus, Jupiter, and a thin crescent moon.
According to a report in National Geographic News, Venus and Jupiter, two of the brightest naked-eye planets, will initially converge in the evening skies on November 30.
Then, on the following night, i.e, on December 1, a thin crescent moon will join the planetary pair, and create a brief "unhappy face" in the sky.
"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.
"As long as you have clear skies in the early part of the evening, this is one astronomical event that's hard to miss," Gyuk added.
In fact, some historians think that a similar conjunction between Jupiter and Venus in 2 B.C. may be the source of the "star of Bethlehem" story related in the Bible.
According to scholars, the stellar pair would have appeared so close together that they might have seemed to meld into one brilliant beacon of light.
Jupiter and Venus are particularly bright, partly because both have highly reflective clouds that completely envelop them, but also because Venus is Earth's closest neighbor while Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system.
Both planets are currently easy to locate just after sunset in the southwestern sky. During a conjunction, two or more of the naked-eye planets seem to be huddled close together.
On November 30, the two planets will close the gap to just over two degrees, or about the same space that four full moons would take up in the sky.
To the unaided eye, the planets will appear to be the same distance from each other on both viewing nights.
"They'll appear so close together on these two evenings that you could stretch out your arm and cover the pair up with just your thumb," Gyuk said.
Venus, the brighter of the two, will be slightly lower left of Jupiter, and when the crescent moon joins the show, it will sit to the upper left of Venus.
As an added bonus for observers in Western Europe and northwestern Africa, Venus will be eclipsed by the moon on December 1.
According to astronomers, this year's planetary convergence is special because it's occurring in the early evening when nearly everyone worldwide might have a chance to witness it.