Aurora Alert Late Tonight / Venus Gets A Smile

Acoronal hole from May 13-14 opened toward the Earth, allowing streams of high-speed particles to head toward the Earth (arrows). NASA / SDO

A small hole in the sun’s magnetic overcoat called a coronal hole is blowing solar particles our way that could spark an aurora tonight. That’s according to the latest space weather forecast out of Boulder.  You may have to stay up late for this one. The minor geomagnetic storm is expected to hit around 1 a.m. Central Time and linger till dawn. Watch the northern sky for a pale green arc or other activity indicating the storm is underway.

You can also check the Aurora — 30-minute forecast site to see how the auroral ovals are doing. These are the permanent “caps” of aurora at either end of the planet centered on the geomagnetic poles. If you see the edge of the oval expanding southward into the northern U.S., there’s a fair chance you’ll see a display at least from the northern half of the border states.

Look for the thin lunar crescent at dusk low in the western sky tonight. Tomorrow, the moon lines up with Venus and will be easier to spot. Stellarium

Tomorrow night, activity is likely to subside, but in its place you can watch for another sight that’s guaranteed to happen: the evening crescent moon will smile alongside the planet Venus in the western sky at dusk. Always a beautiful sight, it requires no equipment to see and enjoy. Unless you want to capture it for your Facebook page or Twitter with a mobile phone.

Want to challenge yourself … just a little? See if you can spot the very young crescent moon tonight well below Venus in the western sky after sunset. Start looking about a half hour to 45 minutes after sunset one outstretched fist below and slightly right of Venus. Good luck and bring binoculars to enjoy the lunar crescent’s delicate appearance even more.