Oregon Astronomy: Surreal Planetary Alignment, Meteors
(Portland, Oregon) – An interesting set of cosmic dances are playing out in the skies above Oregon this holiday weekend, from the Portland area, down through the Willamette Valley, the Gorge, southern Oregon and other parts of the state. Look for a fascinating and slightly surreal alignment of planets with the moon and a small meteor shower.
Already this weekend the moon showed off a strange triangular shape when hanging with a couple of planets and a star. Jupiter and Mars formed a freaky triangle configuration in the wee hours of Saturday morning with the tip pointing right at the moon.
The gas giant Jupiter is now the brightest object in the sky, even compared to the waning crescent moon. For the next few days the planet will be close to the moon for a good amount of time as it wanders in the east. Look for this wowing planetary dance an hour or two before dawn.
Early this morning the peak of the Aurigid meteor showers takes place, in the wee hours of September 1. However, astronomers suggest Labor Day as a better time to spot them since the moon will be out of sight by then.
These are not a major meteor shower by any means, producing maybe 50 to 10 shooting stars per hour.
Meanwhile, Venus will be a fairly bright star throughout September, moving from west to east – but this one appears just after dusk.
Below, some other stellar phenomena captured on the Oregon coast.