While we patiently wait for the twinkling Christmas star, the night sky has decided to give us a cosmic preview for one night only. Jupiter and Saturn are expected to align more closely than they did in nearly 800 years on December 21, but ahead of the main event, the two planets will form cosmic triangles with the crescent moon. Visible just on Dec. 16, the triangle will form once the moon is high in the night sky, or about six degrees southwest of the planets, depending on Astronomy.
The triangle appears just after sunset, or just after 7pm at local time. However, before you break out the binoculars, make sure you have a good view of the finesse. Being in a place away from light pollution enhances the brightness of the planets, and makes it easier to see all three when they are high in the sky. If you miss the creation on December 16, the planets will perform a similar dance on December 17 and December 18; however, they will not be as close as before. If you have a minute, move on to your nearest window and pick up a chair to see the opening act of the December cosmic extravaganza.