Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Clouds, With a Planetary Chaser

I stepped onto my driveway at around 7:30 p.m. Eastern, to see if I could photograph Jupiter and Venus. For the next ten minutes -- a time period that seemed much longer -- I witnessed a race between the storm clouds that were building and the planets' appearance as twilight advanced. I took the shot above as I waited for the light level to drop.

Last night, clouds had at first covered the western sky and left the east clear. Today the opposite occurred. The skies at east-northeast trended from solid gray to solid black. The western sky was clear when I stepped outdoors, but was still too bright for me to see the planets. The clouds above had lain in the east-southeast, and they became increasingly foreboding:

Thunder growled steadily by this time. I found myself bracing for rain.

I turned, to where more clouds gathered in the northwest:

A dragonfly found its way into this next shot, near upper right:

More visible in the large view.

This was the scene coming in from the north:

By this time Venus and Jupiter had begun to peek out, but one or the other (or both) kept getting covered by wisps of cloud. Finally, at around 7:40, I caught both of them out in the open -- just before the cloud bank covered them:

Venus, the brighter object at right, has now risen higher than Jupiter. (If Venus were at the center of a clock face, Jupiter would be at the 8 o'clock position.) The day before, they'd been pretty much across from each other. Two days ago, Jupiter had been higher.

North-northwest had become solid overcast. Pretty soon, the entire sky was covered in this:

Lightning and a loud thunderclap hit in the northwest about two minutes after I took the shot. It was a gorgeous bolt, and for a moment I debated staying outside to see if I could catch one on pixel. I headed indoors instead. Minutes later another bolt gave us a temporary blackout, followed by rain.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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