Rare planetary conjunction: upside-down frown

Tonight we were treated to a rare, beautiful, and odd planetary conjunction: Venus, Jupiter, and a crescent moon in an upside-down frown.  (An unintended  ode to the first day of finals?)  It was easily viewed from my back yard in South Florida where I took the photo.  Jupiter — the largest of the objects — is in the lower right, its distance making it seem to be the smallest.  The smallest object, the moon, appears to be the largest since it’s closest to the Earth.

Triangle moon arrangement

As Wired points out:

Look up at the sky Monday night to see a bright cosmic frown. The planets Jupiter and Venus will briefly align to form (nearly upside down) two eyes and a frowning mouth in the southwest.

In what’s called a planetary conjunction, the two planets —the brightest in the night sky — will appear extremely close, separated by only the width of a finger held at arm’s length. They won’t be this close together and well-placed for evening viewing again until May 2013.

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