By astronomer Stuart Atkinson:

WE ARE now just a month away from the Great Conjunction of 2020, when the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn come so close together that they will essentially look like a single, bright star in the sky.

That will be happening after sunset on the evening of December 21, when the two planets will be less than a Moon’s width apart in the twilight.

They are already quite close together now, and if you look to the south as soon as the sky starts to get dark you will see them there close together, low in the sky, looking like bright stars to the naked eye.

Jupiter is the brighter of the two, on the right, with fainter Saturn shining to its upper left.

If you saw Mars back in mid-October when it was at its closest point to Earth you will remember how strikingly bright it was.

It is still obvious to the naked eye, visible as an orange star low in the east after sunset, but it has grown a lot fainter in the past month as it starts to fall behind Earth and grow smaller in the night sky.

It will be visible in the evening sky for quite a while yet, its orange colour making it very easy to identify.

Early risers are being treated at the moment to fine views of the two worlds closest to the Sun, Mercury and Venus, both of which are visible to the naked eye in the east before sunrise.

Venus is the higher and much brighter of the two, while Mercury, shining to the lower left of the ‘Morning Star’, is not anywhere near as bright.