Find a place with a clear view of the sky, such as a field or a park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright enough to be seen from most cities. Look to the southwest sky one hour after sunset. Jupiter will appear like a brilliant star and will be plainly visible. Saturn will be smaller but still easy to see.
The constellation Virgo is the guide to finding Jupiter and Saturn. Follow the curve of the shoulder of the girl in this picture until you can just make out Jupiter (the big red planet) and Saturn (the golden ball).
Jupiter and Saturn are both found in the night sky throughout the year, but they're best seen around December 24 when they come together near the constellation Virgo. This event is called "the Winter Hexagon" and it's when these two planets are closest to each other relative to the Earth.
On Christmas Day 1542, someone saw all six planets (including Mars and Mercury) in one night. Today, only four have been seen at once -- Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mercury. On December 25, 1618, another pair of eyes saw all seven planets (again including Mars and Mercury). Today, only three planets haven't been seen by human eyes: Pluto, Eris and Makemake.
Pluto was considered a planet until 2004 when it was demoted to dwarf planet.
After sunset, the Christmas Star is visible for roughly an hour. Look for the spot where the sun has sunk below the horizon; Jupiter's brightness should be visible. To reduce light pollution, avoid towns and cities for the best viewing effects.
In Alaska, the Christmas Star is seen in all parts of the state as long as it's night out and there are no clouds in the sky. It can be anywhere from the mid-40s to the low 50s during its appearance, which depends on how far north you are. It's usually highest in the north at around 57 degrees, but it can also be seen south of 60 degrees if it's a clear night with no clouds. The farther west you go, the lower it gets until by the time you get to Montana it's barely brighter than the moon.
The Christmas Star is a luminous body orbiting the planet Jupiter every 108 days. It was discovered in 1604 by Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who was working for the Royal Observatory of France, and named after him.
So, a star is just any bright object in the sky. They're anything from huge planets to small lights burning in houses.
Look to the southwest on Monday night, just after sunset. Jupiter and Saturn will be so near that they will seem as a single brilliant star. It happens once every 400 years and is known as a "conjunction." The two planets were last seen thus close together in July of 1623.
The Christmas Star is one of the easiest objects in the night sky to see with the naked eye, especially if you are living near a city or town. In fact, it has been estimated that there are more than 500 million people around the world who can see it each night!
Astronomers use telescopes to see things that are too small for the unaided eye, such as stars and galaxies. As well as revealing new secrets about the universe, this work has led to many important discoveries about space missions that have been sent into orbit around Earth, including the Apollo astronauts' moon landing vehicles!
For example, astronomers used to think that our galaxy was entirely dark matter, but now we know that it has a hidden face full of stars like ours. And recently, researchers using data from the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that there are actually at least five distinct populations of stars within our Milky Way galaxy - one of which is very similar to the Sun yet another consists mostly of recycled material from dead stars, and another that is likely made up of completely different elements.