The Planets/Earth-Approaching Asteroid

venusjupiter012808.gifThere is a lot happening in skies above, well beyond the layers of our atmosphere! Right now is a great time to view some of the planets in our solar system. Unfortunately, the sky viewing conditions won’t be too good over the next 36 hours due to an approaching cold front. Our good friend, UA Astronomy Professor Bill Keel, shares this great image and bit of information with us:

“Venus and Jupiter can appear brighter than any of the other planets. This week, early risers can see them very close to each other to the sky – on Friday morning, you would barely be able to fit the size of full Moon in between. Attached is a picture from this morning. Of course, it was only while walking a bit later, with the camera safely packed away, that I found a spot where I could also see Venus reflected in a patch of ice.”

Another interesting event will unfold tomorrow as an asteroid labeled TU24 will pass Earth. NASA has determined the space rock is 250 meters wide and lopsided. According to Professor Keel, the large asteroid will be closer to earth over the next few days than any asteroid of this size will be for more than a dozen years. There is no danger of a collision, but tomorrow the space rock will be close enough to photograph through backyard telescopes as it speeds through the constellation Cassiopeia. Asteroid TU24 is located at 1.4 lunar distances. Once again, clouds will likely hamper viewing conditions over the region. Be sure to click here for an image of the asteroid captured by the University of Alabama, Astronomy Department.

Wes Wyatt
WVUA Chief Meteorologist

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Monday Afternoon Forecast Discussion Update

Good Afternoon! We’re finally making some upward progress in the temperature department. Tonight we will cool off into the middle 40s and even though that is cold for our standards, it sure beats the 20s we dealt with earlier today. The latest satellite imagery is showing a void in the cloud cover over central Mississippi, so I’m calling for a mostly clear sky through much of tonight. The clouds will fill in however, and by tomorrow morning we should start to see lots of clouds overhead. The good news is that our temperatures will be rebounding to near 70-degrees. Unfortunately, we won’t have much time to get out and enjoy the mild weather as showers will be arriving.

A cold front will move in late tomorrow and ahead of this feature, showers will become likely. This setup has prompted the Storm Prediction Center to place part of the area underneath a slight risk for severe weather tomorrow night. This is primarily covering the northwestern portion of our viewing area. Thunderstorms will develop out ahead of the front and some storms may grow severe in this area. The severe weather threat looks to drop off as the storms march closer to Tuscaloosa. With that said, a strong thunderstorm, with gusty winds can’t be ruled out. As the rain tapers off from west to east, a cold front will move through shifting our winds. Temperatures will drop into the upper 30s by Wednesday morning.

We will have some decent periods of sunshine on Wednesday, but a more amplified storm system will be gaining strength to our west. An area of low pressure will begin spreading rain into our area on Thursday, with increasing clouds. This system will have more of a punch as it moved through due to its track and placement. Therefore, I expect the leading edge of the warmer sector to bring an overcast sky with rain developing Thursday. As this wet weather continues the atmosphere will grow unstable and this will fuel strong thunderstorms as a cold front drops in early Friday. Hopefully, the main cold front will move through early on Friday, lowering the threat for severe weather. Be sure to tune in at 4, 5, 6, and 10 for a detailed look at our local weather forecast!

Wes Wyatt
WVUA Chief Meteorologist