Monday, June 3, 2013

Puffs of Popcorn, a Hint of a Storm, and Venus

Although last week's weather systems brought deadly, destructive tornadoes to Oklahoma, those systems were far less severe by the time reached Northwest Indiana. We had some severe storms, but mostly we had interesting cloud formations pushing in from the southwest. Friday was by far the most interesting, as I saw clouds like I've never seen before.

I walked out of Westchester Public Library just before 8 PM CDST, and immediately noticed the pretty clouds. These pictures do them no justice, but are far better than my feeble attempt to describe them. Them deck of the clouds seemed low, and had a texture to it like fluffy popcorn, seen from underneath in a glass bowl. The camera of my phone captured these clouds with a yellow tint to them, but I saw them only as white and gray.

I snapped picture after picture, trying to capture the dynamics at play, but also waiting for the Sun to get just below the horizon, light the clouds from below, and turning them pink. Just as that was about to happen, thinner, darker, wispier clouds came in below them, at a slightly more south to north angle, though still from the southwest. These were followed by darker, more sinister storm clouds, though cut across from off to the southwest to somewhat north of me. Between were gaps of blue sky.

Although the conjunction of Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury was fairly low above the west-northwest horizon, I was able to catch Venus between breaks in the clouds. Jupiter, being the lowest of the three, I didn't expect to see with the cloud cover in that direction, but Mercury, to the upper left of Venus, should have been visible in the clear patch of twilight sky. Somehow, perhaps due to haze, I never saw it that night.

I stayed in the parking lot for nearly an hour, collecting 246 pictures of sky during that time. Only one other patron leaving the library thought to do the same, but only for a few minutes. The rest seemed to take no notice at all. I snapped the first picture at 7:58:47 PM CDST, and the last at 8:55:25 PM CDST. I'm including each and every one of them in this post, and will let the pictures tell the story from this point.