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This year's "wobbly" polar vortex (left) compared to last year's more "compact" vortex. Image: NOAA
This year's "wobbly" polar vortex (left) compared to last year's more "compact" vortex. Image: NOAA

What's up in the sky, and what's up with the weather

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The night sky, and so much more today from St. Lawrence University Physics professor Aileen O'Donoghue.

In fact it's a double-header today: the sky, and the wobbly polar vortex.

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Reported by

Martha Foley
News and Public Affairs Director

She sketches the map of what we can see when the sky is clear: Jupiter is big and bright as it moves across Gemini back toward the East after it moved to the West for a while. You can’t miss it, she says, and you can still see its moons, with good binoculars resting on a tripod.

Leo is high in the sky, too, pretty far to the left of Jupiter right now. It looks like the Sphinx.

Venus is lovely in the morning, in a line of planets that stretches from Venus, in the ESE, arcing across the sky from Saturn, the brightest thing in the south, over to the southwest to Mars.  Mars is getting close to opposition, when it rises opposite the sunset (that’s April 8). Tonight the moon will be between Mars and the very bright star, Spica. Mars is the redder, brighter one.

Talk of the Vernal Equinox, the start of Spring Thursday, prompted a conversation about the persistent deep cold this winter and to present. Aileen O’Donoghue also teaches global climate at SLU, and she gives a fun, comprehensible explanation of what the heck is happening with our weather, as a result of what is happening with the climate. The polar vortex is wobbly, and we're stuck in a cold spot. It has to do with an extra snow-y season in Siberia, the melting of the polar ice cap, the jet stream, and more.

There’s a good synopsis of this at NOAA’s climate.gov site.

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