A rare event in the night's sky will not be seen again until 2052 for North Americans as Venus and Jupiter join in alignment with a thumbnail moon. For Europeans, the event will be an awe inspiring eclipse of Venus, with its reemergence sparkling!
The beauty of nature and its wonders continue to encapsulate onlookers across the globe but for those who are too busy to take a moment here and there, certain events could mean an opportunity missed. Tonight, one of those rare events will take place in the night's sky as the planets Jupiter and Venus will line up close to a crescent moon, making for quite a unique spectacle.
As they are the three brightest objects in the sky right now, the sight of all three in alignment is considered by some experts to be "a head-turner" in that it will gain the attention of otherwise disinterested individuals.
Having viewed the trio on Sunday night, at moments, it resembled a smiling face in the sky.
The moon, which is about 15 per cent illuminated, or more commonly called a "thumbnail moon," is said to be a setting moon and will move rapidly through the night sky early on making its decent. Leonardo da Vinci was reportedly the first to recognize another event that will occur this evening involving the moon, called earthshine:
you may be able to see the full globe of the moon, its darkened portion glowing with a bluish-gray hue interposed between the sunlit crescent and not much darker sky. This vision is sometimes called "the old moon in the young moon's arms."
From North American soil, the amazing view of Venus, the brightest planet in the solar system, in alignment with Jupiter and the sliver crescent moon is only an illusion of sorts in that the moon will stand approximately 251,000 miles away from Earth, Venus is about 93 million miles away and Jupiter, it is around 540 million miles away.
If you are fortunate to take in tonight's viewing, using a pair of binoculars or a small telescope may assist in the amazing beauty of the moon's detail. Jupiter and its satellites should also be in full view under magnification as well. Unfortunately, Venus will simply appear as a bright "blob of light" for now. Still, the event is well seen with the naked eye.
If you are in Western Europe, the moon will appear to pass in front of Venus reportedly tomorrow night, an event called "occultation," which will create the illusion that Venus will disappear behind the dark portion of the moon. Depending upon where one lives, this can occur as early as twilight. When Venus reemerges from behind the moon, it will resemble a sparkling jewel sitting upon the crescent moon.
The last time London, UK was treated to this occurrence was in 1961 and it said that it will not happen again until 2032.
As far as North America, we will not get to see this alignment of celestial beings again until 2052, although Venus will remain the winner of the brightest star during the winter and will continue to shine for several hours from December 1 to January 1. It typically emerges just before sunset. Jupiter moves opposite of Venus in a progressively lowering pattern that will place it in alignment with the sun's glow by January, making it impossible to see.
So remember, some things may not make it around during your lifetime or even when you might have a chance to see them so if at all possible, take the opportunity and enjoy this celestial event.