IF THE sky is clear after sunset this coming weekend, and if you have a clear view to the south west without any mountains, tall trees or buildings blocking your view in that direction, there's an opportunity to see a rare close encounter of the planetary kind, writes STUART ATKINSON.

Shortly before 5pm on Saturday night, just as twilight is starting to deepen, look just above the south western horizon and you should see Venus shining low in the sky, looking like a bright star. Look a little more closely and you'll see a fainter star very close to it, almost directly above it. This is actually another planet, Jupiter this time. If you can't quite make it out with your naked eye try using a pair of binoculars and Jupiter should be a lot easier to see. If there are any obstructions on your horizon in that direction you'll need to find somewhere higher and or flatter because the planetary pair will be hidden by anything higher than a hedge.

On the following evening the two planets will actually be a little closer together, but by then they will have changed position slightly so Venus will appear to the lower left of Jupiter. Again, if you can't quite split the pair with just your eyes even a low powered pair of binoculars will show them quite clearly.

As an added bonus, another planet will be on view. Shining to the upper left of Venus and Jupiter, Saturn, famous for its rings, will be visible to the naked eye too.