Stargazers stayed up late last night to enjoy a solar system ménage à trois the likes of which won't be seen again until 2012. Venus and Jupiter, two of the brightest planets that can be seen with the naked eye, appeared to be hanging out around the moon in what many armchair astronomers have referred to as a "smiley face" or "frowny face" depending on the time and place they observed the planets.


Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon

    The earth's crescent moon (L), the planet Venus (bottom) and planet Jupiter (R) are seen in the sky over Washington at 5.10pm Eastern Standard Time (1000 GMT) December 1, 2008. The event is uncommon in that the three brightest objects in the night sky appear so close together. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)

    Reuters

    A crescent moon is seen below the planets Jupiter (L) and Venus (R) in the sky over Amman December 1, 2008. Astronomers and skygazers across the world are keeping watch on Monday night for a rare astronomical phenomenon as two of the brightest naked-eye planets, Venus and Jupiter, join a thin crescent moon to create a brief "unhappy face" in the sky. On Sunday night, the two planets appeared closest together in an event known as "Planetary Conjunction". REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN)

    Reuters

    A crescent moon (R) is seen with the planet Jupiter in the sky over Amman December 1, 2008. Astronomers and skygazers across the world are keeping watch on Monday night for a rare astronomical phenomenon as two of the brightest naked-eye planets, Venus and Jupiter, join a thin crescent moon to create a brief "unhappy face" in the sky. On Sunday night, Venus and Jupiter appeared closest together in an event known as "Planetary Conjunction". REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN)

    Reuters

    Star gazers look at the crescent moon below Jupiter (top) and Venus in Kathmandu December 1, 2008. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar (NEPAL)

    Reuters

    A crescent moon is seen below Jupiter (top) and Venus in Kathmandu December 1, 2008. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar (NEPAL)

    Reuters

    A crescent moon (R) is seen below Jupiter (top) and Venus in Los Angeles November 30, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES)

    Reuters

    A picture taken from the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on December 1, 2008 shows a crescent moon forming a triangle with Venus (top-R)and Jupiter (L). Astronomers refer to this rare phenomenon as an "occultation," taken from the Latin word occultare, which means "to conceal." AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    A picture taken from the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on December 1, 2008 shows a crescent moon forming a triangle with Venus (top-R)and Jupiter (L). Astronomers refer to this rare phenomenon as an "occultation," taken from the Latin word occultare, which means "to conceal." AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    This photo taken in Sofia on December 1, 2008, shows a slender crescent moon 15-percent illuminated in close proximity Jupiter (unseen) behind Christmas lights. Astronomers refer to this rare phenomenon as an "occultation," taken from the Latin word occultare, which means "to conceal." This eye-catching sight is be visible in complete darkness across much of Eastern Europe. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    This picture taken from Rome on December 1, 2008 shows a slender crescent of the moon (L) with Venus (top-R). The moon is passing on December 1, 2008 in front of Venus and will appear close to the other brightest planet in our sky, Jupiter, in a phenomenon that astronomers refer as an "occultation". AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images