Weather iffy for tonight's sky spectacular
I can see a few rays of sunshine warming the rock walls of the State Penitentiary this morning. And that suggests the clouds may clear enough late this afternoon to give Marylanders a peek at tonight's sky spectacular. Here's the official forecast - for "mostly cloudy" skies.
The event is a striking triple conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter, with the crescent moon. They will form a beautiful triangle after sunset, hanging just above the southwest horizon. All three will be plenty bright enough to spot from anywhere skies are clear (or more-or-less clear toward the southwest), even in light-polluted urban settings.
Photographers have already been busy snapping pictures of the two planets, with the moon approaching from the lower right. That's Heather McLaughlin's shot above, taken from Foster City, Calif. (Used with permission.) Here is a gallery from SpaceWeather.com
By tonight, the moon will have moved just to the left of Venus and Jupiter.
If you're reading this in Europe, you will have an even more astonishing show to watch if your skies aren't clouded up. From your perspective, the moon will move in front of Venus in what astronomers call a "lunar occultation."
UPDATE: The clouds cleared, and we had a good look at this conjunction, around 6 p.m., from the roof of the Sun garage, looking southwest toward the Basilica. I tried a snapshot with my point-and-shoot (below). It's more than a little blurry, but you get the idea. I expect others will have better images online by morning.