Not a lot of snow, but bad timing creating a traffic nightmare

So far this evening snowfall has been light with Chicago area amounts around  1/2 inch but with temperatures below freezing and the snow falling during rush hour, traffic on many area roads and expressways has slowed to a crawl.

Some snowfall totals ..

Arlington Heights 0.5 inches

Deerfield 0.5 inches

The snow has already ended at Rockford with 1.6 inches reported at WREX-TV . Marengo reported 1 inch of snow.

warning update

…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR COOK…
SOUTHEASTERN LAKE…DUPAGE AND SOUTHERN KANE COUNTIES UNTIL 1000 PM
CDT…

AT 932 PM CDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN
EXCESS OF 60 MPH.  THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING
FROM LONG GROVE TO DES PLAINES TO LISLE…MOVING
SOUTHEAST AT 40 MPH.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE NEAR…
RIVERWOODS…DEERFIELD…BANNOCKBURN AND LAKE FOREST AROUND 940 PM
CDT.
NORTHBROOK…HIGHLAND PARK…WILLOW SPRINGS AND SUMMIT AROUND 945
PM CDT.
NORTHFIELD…WINNETKA…GLENCOE AND STICKNEY AROUND 950 PM CDT.
WILMETTE…KENILWORTH AND WILMETTE HARBOR AROUND 955 PM CDT.

Astronomical alignment above Chicago

Kevin Sheely from Woodridge shared this shot of the planets in the sky Monday evening. Our astronomer Dan Joyce describes the interesting astronomical alignment visible above Chicago:

Even in metropolitan lit skies the planets (and for a short while, together  with the moon) are putting on a show each clear evening for a couple of  weeks.  Jupiter is being passed by the moon over the next couple of nights  as dusk descends in the western sky as both hover over brilliant Venus,  which itself will make headlines early in June because it will pass directly  in front of the sun for the last time this century on June 5th.

By about 8:00 Mars is shining in its characteristic fiery color not far from  Regulus, the royal star of Leo, King of Beasts.  Just a couple of hours  later below and to the right of Mars will be Saturn near Spica, brightest  star in Virgo, largest of the zodiacal constellations.
plntsalgn02271201.jpg

Anyone with a clear western horizon looking low between about 6:15 and  6:45pm will also see Mercury, which is making one of its better apparitions  out of solar glare for about anothe week or so.  –Dan Joyce, Astronomer

Magnificent video of Monday night's aurora captured in Southwest Michigan

by Mike Hamernik http://twitter.com/#!/MikeHamernik

 

BELOW:  Timeslapse of the aurora from Martin, Michigan, 17 miles north of Kalamazoo

 

 

Monday night’s aurora borealis show didn’t last very long, but it definitely left an impression on those who captured the dancing red and green lights.

According to Triton College astronomer Dan Joyce, this was the Chicago areas first significant northern lights event in nearly seven years.  By most accounts, the display peaked between 8:30PM & 9:15PM CDT. 

Urban lights prevented city dwellers from taking in the show, but many suburban locations were dark enough experience the exhibition including Batavia, Mundelein, Long Grove, Champaign, Kenosha, Algonquin and Milwaukee

One photographer west of Madison, WI claims the display was so bright “it lit up the ground”.  His photographs can be seen here http://dakotalapse.com/?p=581

If you are ever fortunate enough to witness a vibrant display of the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights in the northern hemisphere, I can guarantee it is a sight you will never forget.

Special thanks to Michael Gavin and Shawn Gavin of Martin, Michigan. http://www.lakefx.net/index.html

Fall 2011 begins

Fall
2011 got underway astronomically Friday morning at 4:05 a.m.
 Astronomers calculate the times at which seasons begin using
astronomical benchmarks. In this morning’s case, autumn began as the
sun’s most-direct rays crossed the equator—the moment referred to as
the “autumnal equinox”.

The 'opposition' of Jupiter

Dear Tom,
I see a bright star in the sky in the eastern sky around 9 p.m. and then in the western sky around 4 or 5 a.m. What is it?

–Phyllis Roche

Dear Phyllis,
Astronomer Dan Joyce of the Cernan Earth and Space Center at Triton College in River Grove tells us, “This is very definitely Jupiter, which makes its closest approach to Earth for the next 12 years later this month.”
Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will be at “opposition” on Sept. 21. In astronomical circles, a planet is said to be in opposition when it is directly on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun.
This is generally the closest that the planet comes to Earth and the time when it is most easily visible in the nighttime sky. At opposition (when the sun, Earth and Jupiter lie in a straight line), about 400 million miles will separate Earth and Jupiter.

Astronomical smorgasbord
Our astronomy consultant Dan Joyce, astronomer at Triton College’s Cernan Space Center was kind enough to share this spectacular array of photos with us. These shots were taken with the telescopes pictured below just south of Elizabeth, Illinois located in the far northwest part of the state near Galena. The crystal-clear dark skies of Jo Daviess County necessary to produce these great shots were provided by Dan’s long-time friend Sheldon Faworski. Dan is currently building a new 12.5 inch telescope which is scheduled to be put into use in the next few weeks and should produce even more outstanding photos.
6%2520inch%2520002%20%5B800x600%5D.jpg
The 6 inch white scope and the 10 inch red scope
8%2520inch%25201b%20%5B800x600%5D.jpg
The 8 inch telescope
NGC6820%20%5B800x600%5D.jpg
An emission nebula depicting a vast array of stardust glowing in the light of hydrogen excited by ultra-violet light of nearby stars known as NGC6820 about 1,500 light years out in the direction of the Cygnus-Cepheus border. This shot was taken by the 8 inch scope.
M38_R%2BRGB2%20%5B800x600%5D.jpg
This is a picture of the star clusters of M38 (on the left about 4,500 light years) and NGC1907 (on the right about 14,000 light years out) in Auriga just north of the horns of Taurus. This photo was shot with the 6 inch telescope.
VDB%2520141%2520LRGB1%20%282%29%20%5B800x600%5D.jpg
This photo shows the reflection nebula known as the “Ghost Nebula”. vdB141 in Cepheus taken by the 10 inch scope and thought to be 2,500 light years away.
M38 is the 38th object in Charles Messier’s catalog of objects not to be confused with comets.
NGC1907 and NGC6820 are those entries into Johann Dreyer’s “New General Catalog” of objects including clusters, nubulae and galaxies. Finally, vdB141 in that entry into Sidney van den Berg’s catalog of very faint objects.
Thanks again Dan for these great photos and accompanying explanations.

Posted by Steve Kahn WGN Weather Center Meteorologist