Published: 2015-12-07 08:49:50
Updated: 2015-12-07 08:49:50
Posted December 7, 2015
By Tony Rice
While North Carolina woke to overcast skies and a chance of showers Monday morning, clouds are expected to begin breaking in time for us to catch a rare astronomical phenomenon. The moon will occult, or pass in front of, Venus early Monday afternoon. While the best views of the event will further north and west before sunrise, especially in Alaska and Canada, Venus is bright enough to be seen in daylight.
The event begins for central North Carolina at 12:40 p.m. Look to the southwest for the waning crescent moon. A little above and to the left you’ll find, if the clouds cooperate, Venus. Over the next 10 minutes, Venus will disappear as the moon slides in front.
Go back outside a few minutes before 2:00 p.m. and look to the lower right of the crescent moon. Venus will re-emerge over the next 10 minutes. Clouds are expected to decrease throughout the event.
The clearer your western horizon, the more likely you are to see the planet emerge from behind the unlit portion of the moon. By 2 p.m. the pair will be just 5 degrees above the horizon.
The exact timing of this event varies by your location. Observers in Asheville should begin looking at about 12:30. From Wilmington, Venus will begin disappearing about 12:42.
The International Space Station (ISS) will also pass over our homes twice Monday night. The brightest pass begins at 5:23 p.m. from the southwest. Over the next 6 1/2 minutes, the ISS will reach 67 degrees in altitude or about 2/3 between the horizon and the zenith point directly overhead. The ISS will again pass over the area on its next orbit, rising in the northwest at 7:02 p.m. reaching barely 11 degrees above the horizon, likely below the treeline for most of us.