FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Stargazers in South Florida and across the globe were in for a treat as the two largest planets in our solar system came closer than they have in centuries.

The close alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, called a conjunction, could be seen above the southwestern horizon after sunset, Monday. They will be visible until approximately Friday.

According to NASA, it has been nearly 400 years since the two planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years — the year 1226, to be exact — since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night.

This rare occurrence allowed nearly everyone around the world to witness the “great conjunction.”

This type of conjunction happens around every 20 years, but this is the first time the planets were this close since 1623.

“What’s unique about this particular one is how super close they get to each other in the sky,” said NASA planetary scientist Henry Throop, Ph.D., “where they’re not a degree apart, not two degrees apart, but just a 10th of a degree apart.”

Saturn initially appeared slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until Monday, when Jupiter overtook it, reversing positions in the sky, NASA officials said.

The conjunction has been nicknamed the “Christmas Star” since the unusual sighting is happening just in time for the holiday.

It has scientists wondering if the Star of Bethlehem was a planetary conjunction similar to this one.

Stargazers in Fort Lauderdale said the conjunction is a welcome reminder that it’s a big universe out there idf you stop to look up.

“I think it’s great to be a witness to history, to be a part of it. It’s wonderful,” said stargazer Wayne Harris.

Even though Jupiter and Saturn look close together, scientists said, they’re actually hundreds of millions of miles apart. The next time a similar conjunction will be visible won’t happen until March 2080.

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