I've been following the alignment of the moon, Jupiter and Venus for several days now and last night was spectacular: clear, not so cold, calm, quiet. I walked into the backyard and was struck by the absolute majesty of the sky, deepening to a blue-black after the sun set and allowing the brilliance of the three celestial objects to dominate the western sky.
Here's last night (02/27/12) on the right and the plot for tonight (02/28/12) on the right. Both frames are for 7 p.m. local time.
You can see how the moon is moving farther away from the plants and how Jupiter and Venus are huddling closer. Also compare the objects to the two stars on the right and you can see how the position is shifting somewhat. Tonight it'll be cloudy so my view last evening was even more special for being the last.
First, a shot through some of the trees at the western edge of our property.
The three objects are brilliant behind an Austrian Pine.
And then backing off a bit to give the view some perspective. The sun has set 40 minutes earlier but the horizon still glows a cheery orange.
This is my favorite shot of the set. The two front windows (living room) of Pinehaven glow an inviting yellow while the night sky outside takes on a deeper, colder hue. The two planets and the moon seem to have drifted lazily, like smoke, from our chimney and have begun wafting south.
This wide view is the final I took as I stepped into the backyard a final time. What wonders the universe dangles right over our heads!
I looked out the back door again last evening and thought I'd walk out for one final look at this fine sight. Here's what Stellarium told me I'd see at 7 p.m.:
The moon has moved quite far away from Jupiter and Venus but the three remain is a fairly straight line. Now they're high overhead and not so easy to photograph. But I aimed up through our maple tree and this is what I saw from the north lawn:
That maple, by the way, is at the northwest corner of the house and is where we hang the suet feeder. While I stood there in the near-dark, leaves and twigs snapped in the meadow to the north. I suppose a deer or some other animal was watching me. I made a few noises so it could be sure where I was and let it go at that.
Finally, from the front of the house, I shot upwards and caught Pinehaven's chimney at a sharp angle. After a high of 71° (a record tied from 1976), the evening was pleasant though a little breezy. During the night I heard the wind howling and it was just 35° when I awoke at 7 a.m.