Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

Your stories: Smiling sky

Photo: Martin Cooper

Astronomers and stargazers have been watching a rare astronomical phenomenon.

Jupiter and Venus are in conjunction and lie just two degrees apart, so lucky skygazers will be able to see the two planets getting closer.

At the same time, the crescent Moon will eclipse Venus and, if you watch the Moon at sunset through binoculars, you will see an occultation of Venus by the Moon. The planet will seem to disappear as the dark limb of the Moon passes over it.

Read a selection of your comments on this phenomenon:

I didn't expect it. I saw it earlier and said to my hubby "doesn't the moon look stunning tonight?" I didn't know it was a rare thing until a friend send me a mobile message at about 21h30 and asked whether I saw the moon. Pity it's too late for me to take a picture as I can't see it now. The moon is hiding.
Trishana, Gauteng, South Africa

I can't believe I saw it! I looked at the moon on my commute home at about 5:15 and thought, 'eh? That's weird. I've never seen that star before'. Then a few minutes later it appeared to have moved and wondered if it was a helicopter.

Richard , Kidderminster

I don't watch such events because, like this one, I only ever find out about them after they have occurred. I had noticed Jupiter and Venus close to each other a couple of days ago, but didn't realise that the climax was still building.
Steve Swift, Alton, Hampshire, England

It was fantastic, me and my friend thought it was a start, only there was no other star in the sky!
Matthew Jackson, Dundee

I wasn't expecting it - but you couldn't miss it from here. Particularly as the sun sank over the sea and Venus appeared from behind the moon. Lovely clear skies with excellent visibility -- you could even see the features of the dark part of the moon with the naked eye. Brilliant, in the true sense of the word.
Andy McMullin, South Devon Coastline

We got to witness (and capture) the most 'stellar' show of nature this evening with two of the brightest stars in the sky looming above the crescent. It was a spectacular event that is said to occur one in a lifetime. I wish more people had known about it via the excessive news channels on TV in Pakistan.
M. Ali, Karachi, Pakistan

I saw this! I had no idea it was going to occur, but as I was looking at how bright those two stars were, I thought at least one of them had to be a planet! It was so beautiful, and it's wonderful to have an explanation.
Stephanie, Yorba Linda, CA US

They are NOT the three brightest objects in the night sky. The International Space Station is brighter than Jupiter.
Stella,

Wish I had, was looking forward to it, but obscured by typical Brit weather. Shame
Mike, Soham, Cambs

I saw this tonight, at around 19:48. The sky was overcast but you could clearly see the two planets around the sliver of a moon. When the clouds cleared they became brighter and Venus was the most prominent.

Shirley Koaho, Johannesburg, South Africa

I saw it i all Ghanaians did i was beauty i mean its nature at its best...
Opoku Emmanuel, Accra,Ghana

Travelling home from work at Lands End tonight saw Jupiter + Moon but no Venus where I saw both planets last night. Assumed an occultation was happening which was confirmed when a little "pimple" appeared on the Moon. Marvellous sight in the clear sky. Unfortunately didn't have my camera with me.
Barry, Helston, Cornwall.

I was driving home from work this evening and by pure chance saw the slim crescent of the moon. I was most surprised to see a bright dot appear half way along the lit edge like a pimple, which gradually separated as the moon moved.

A fantastic sight. A pity I also had to watch the traffic!
Dave Case, Wokingham UK

I was just walking home from work and i spotted it over the river Tamar near Plymouth dockyard and it looks truly stunning. It's like what you imagine a moon to look like in a fairytale. If you're in Plymouth tonight make sure you look outside its so clear and worth a view. Not to be missed.
Tony Glass, Plymouth Cornwall

What a fantastic sight, it was worth the cold weather. Added to seeing the shuttle and the ISS going over the Isle of Man last Friday, Astronomy is certainly looking up

Howard Parkin, Chairman IOM astronomical Society
Howard Parkin, Isle of Man

I'm afraid that until all the unnecessary street lights are switched off by the local authorities to reduce the light pollution, I doubt if most people will ever see the stars or planets! Let's all save energy and see the stars once again.
Terry, Lincoln, UK

I've been watching Jupiter trailing Venus in the evening sky for weeks. What a wonderful delight for they and the moon to cozy up in a planetary brilliance and remind the humans that this is an old and miraculous place we call home.
Jeffrey Szilagyi, San Francisco Bay Area, USA

In keeping with the traditions of British astronomy, I glimpsed the scene for just a few seconds before the wonders of the heavens were again totally obscured by clouds.
Glenn Johnson, Bristol

I am a new amateur and I luckily recently bought a telescope, so as I was coming home from college, I spotted the moon and two planets and thought I must unpack the telescope. Even my dad recognised the significance of what we were seeing.
Jonathan , Waterlooville

It was a beautiful sight to see Jupiter & Venus side by side. The crescent moon was beneath it & it almost looked like a smiley with a slight smile & bright eyes! Wish i had my camera with me!
Rachel Paul, India

We saw it so clearly here in Nairobi, just as it got dark. It was so amazing to see this HUGE smiley face looking down on us! Very cool!
Jo Print, Nairobi, Kenya

As I drove west from Eastbourne to Hove at about 1745 local time, on a clear night, the moon and the two planets were very clear and quite spectacular. The evening news coincidentally described what i was seeing and the explanation only added to a memorable experience.
Tony, Hove, England

I had no idea what was occurring in the skies tonight, so while I was standing outside the pub, 'avin a fag in the nice, clear, crisp air, I happened to glance above the horizon. Was they birds, or was they planes, eerily shadowing the splendid crescent of the moon, whose two cusps were wonderfully defined. Nope, just a couple of old planets, the like of which I shall be in awe of, for the rest of my life! Far out!!And the beer was credible too!
Kev, Hooe, Plymouth.

Just as the astronomer was answering a question about the dot near the moon, my daughter rang from Eilat on the Red Sea to say "can you see the dot by the moon?"
Gillian Green, London

I was watching the sunset over the sea this afternoon and my attention was drawn to the moon I came to this website to see what was going on. It was so beautiful I called all my friend and urged them to get into their gardens and have a look. Problems all disappear when something is so natural and exquisite .I glad I was able to access the information so easily. Must go, I have a moon to watch
Pat Shields , Brighton

Driving home from Gibraltar I noticed a bright dot that appeared to be attached to the lower limb of the crescent moon. As I watched it whilst waiting in the border queue, it slowly detached from the moon and moved "down" so that it could be seen as a distinct light in it's own right. From your website I assume that I was watching the occultation of Venus.
Stuart Burgess, La Linea de la Concepcion

No I didn't expect it, just pulled up outside my flat on Brighton sea front and was looking lovingly at the crescent moon, then got to wondering what's going on on the bottom right side. Is that a star??? I run in and got my binoculars and got a closer view... So I thought gotta share this on facebook and with a quick goggle search found out that in fact it's the crescent moon with Venus and Jupiter. FANTASTIC At first one planet was high to right of the moon, (which I thought at the time was the pole star) then just as I parked up the second planet came out from behind the moon. Still not sure which planets are in which position....
Ian Freeston, Brighton UK

I live in Barcelona and have been observing the moon as it looks like a lamp is hanging off the bottom. From my angle Jupiter is below the moon.
Olivier Momma, Barcelona

Wonderful end to bad Monday. "Why has the crescent moon grown a pimple?" Thanks to your info, perhaps it was Venus emerging from behind the moon?
Marion Shipley, Truro, UK

Clear skies here and you can see this with the naked eye...much more impressive through binoculars though!!!Looks amazing!!!!!!!
Janet Spong, Cwmgors,near Ammanford,Wales

Looking up from Varna, Bulgaria, it was amazing sight. Beautiful. It remind me of ET movies! (Relocated from UK)
Richard Payne, Varna

I saw this spectacular trio on our south-western sky last night as I was moving out our trash bins to the sidewalk for next day's pickup. Called my son out and grab a couple of cameras, but wasn't able to grasp a steady shot. Will try again tonight with a tripod.
Jason, Anaheim, CA

It is absolutely beautiful, just went out and the stars and the moon are very clear, bright and separate, have tried to take a photo, not sure if it will come out. Had no idea this was going to happen, only just saw the story on the BBC website. We are also having alot of shooting stars (but then we always seem to).
Lotti Rains, Holsworthy, Devon

Too much cloud up here in the borders, very disapointing after the previous clear nights.
Galileo , North UK

Wow ! Clear sky's ( no light pollution ) and the crescent moon falling into the darkening valley with venus and jupiter looking like the holiday decorations of the God's, fading sunlight as they slip over the horizon.

A celestial menage a trois , how exquisite.
Julie Lynn Warner, Hailey Idaho USA

We were driving home from Malvern and heard it on the news my mum said look out the window and I saw one dot under the moon and one dot over it. Me and my mum didn't know what it was.
Immy Burt, Worcester, England

I have seen and it is wonderful miraculous arrangement of nature

Hagos Hayish-Fessuh, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

I did wonder what it was I was seeing up there tonight! Quite unusual and we were lucky enough to have clear skies. I would like to know how often this happens, any ideas anyone?
Richard Boyland, Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan

I have observed the incident. It was really an amazing experience. The moon Jupiter and Venus-- all together made the big smiley face. It gave the feeling that the sky was smiling to the world.
Mirza Md. Tawhidur Rahman, Dhaka, Bangladesh

I had to make do with using my unaided eyes to see Venus poking out from behind the moon this evening. And as for not taking unnecessary risks, I did have to keep half an eye on the road, as I was driving home from work at the time...
Gareth, Wrexham

Beautiful. Semi-clear skies here in Wales, just got my telescope out for only the second time but had some glorious images of the Moon and Venus, just waiting for Jupiter to come out from a cloud.
Christopher Wileman, Machynlleth, Wales

I was flying from Moscow to Kazan in the Volga region this evening and as we emerged through the clouds we got a perfect view of the moon, Venus and Jupiter just before the occultation. Unfortunately we landed before it happened but at least we got a better view than anyone on the ground under thick cloud!
Peter Hobson, Kazan, Russia

I saw it! Venus seemed to just pop out! Perfect conditions. Mezmerizing! Cheers for warning us about it Mum!
Steve, Cwmbran, South Wales

Yes I did watch it. I am an amateur astronomer aged 70 years and a member of a local astronomical society. It's a splendid sight. Really a smiling face.

U. K. Kharkande, Kolhapur (Maharashtra) INDIA.

I didn't know anything about this event but when I looked up into the sky this evening Venus, Jupiter and the moon were positioned perfectly to create a 'smiley'. Amazing sight! :)
bruce, Kuala Lumpur

I am a skygazer and today I could clearly observe two bright objects close to the crescent moon. Since the sky was very clear so now i am sure i am lucky that i have seen the planets which were fairly visible in the sky at 1725 hrs in Tezpur, Assam.
simrat kaur, Tezpur, India

Total frustration here in London. It was clear all day until about 3.30 and then the clouds came in. Oh well will have to wait till 2052 to get another chance.
James Grant, London

It was so clear here and the sight was stunning....
Tony, Rhodes Greece



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