Skygazers are getting the chance to see two bright planets appearing close together despite being millions of kilometres apart.

The cosmic treat shows Venus and Jupiter lined up as they rise above the horizon, and just before the Sun follows after them.

The peak time to see this planetary conjunction, which happens once every few years, was between around 5am and 6am this morning in Ireland and Britain.

But it can still be spotted tomorrow and in the coming days as the planets slowly move apart.

Despite appearing from Earth to be lined up, the planets will not actually be in that position in space.

Dr Robert Massey, deputy executive director of Britain's Royal Astronomical Society, said: "In this particular case you have Venus and Jupiter (appearing) close together and because they are both bright, that's a nice sight."

He said: "It is fun ... it provides a nice spectacle.

"I think that the nice thing you can have is that with a single telescope eyepiece you can see the two planets together which is an unusual view."

He added: "Although they appear close together, Venus is about 150 million kilometres away at the moment and Jupiter is 740 million kilometres away."

A clear eastern horizon is needed to see the event. Buildings, trees and hills will make it much harder to see as they will appear quite low in the sky.

Viewers in Ireland and the UK will have a harder time of trying to see it than people in southern Europe, Africa, or Australia, as the planets will appear to be a lot higher in the sky before sunrise.

Dr Massey said that once the sun rises, it will be "virtually impossible" to see the event.

But he warned: "You can try to spot the planets with binoculars (use an online star chart to work out where to look) but you must only do that before sunrise.

"This is because looking at the Sun with binoculars or a telescope can cause serious damage to your eyes - as can looking at the Sun with your eyes alone."