Last evening as the sky was darkening, I took a look at Jupiter and Saturn in the western sky. They have now grown closer together but are still discernible as two separate planets. This beautiful sight, something that humans have not been able to observe in around 800 years, medieval times, is going to continue as the planets switch positions and grow farther apart after Monday.
While this is all occurring up there, if we have cloud cover, we’re not going to see it.
Later Saturday, high clouds will begin to increase as low pressure approaches. It’s really a race between the skies getting dark and the clouds arriving, and it looks to me like the clouds are going to win out. We will see high clouds at first so there’s a chance if you’re in a dark area you’ll be able to see both planets through the clouds around 5 p.m. Saturday evening.
On Sunday, a rather weak system approaches the area with some scattered rain or snow showers. The snow would be relegated to the colder northern and western areas. This is a very innocuous system but will bring cloudiness which means there’s no way we’re going to see the conjunction Sunday night.
On the map below, the value of 100 represents full cloud cover. Nearly all of New England is completely cloudy just after sunset on Sunday. This is unfortunate timing for skywatchers.
Another small weather system will affect the region on Monday, and I think will keep us cloudy for that night as well. You can start to see where this is going, because the best three nights of the conjunction will be happening above the clouds, and we’ll be stuck with no ability to view it here. All is not lost, however, as I do think it will start to clear out for Tuesday evening.
While the two planets will not be as close by Tuesday as on the winter solstice, it will still be a great view, provided my forecast works out. The weather actually looks more unsettled for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so both of those nights are likely to not provide good viewing either.