The Universe Literally Smiles on Australia

For stargazers everywhere, the challenge of interpreting the constellations can be a tricky one. What exactly could the belt of Orion or the Gemini twins be trying to tell us? Lucky for those in the Southern Hemisphere, then — this Monday they're getting a huge break. Venus, Jupiter, and our old friend the Moon are about to arrange themselves over Australia in a pattern that is unmistakable.

The Sydney Observatory spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald, letting Australians know what to expect and urging them to get out their digital cameras and (ideally) tripods:

From soon after 8pm until just before 11pm the planets Venus and Jupiter will stare down from the western sky like two brilliant eyes. Directly below, the crescent moon will form a happy mouth.

"I think it will be very spectacular," Sydney Observatory's astronomer, Nick Lomb, said. "The three brightest objects in the night sky will all be in the same patch of the sky."

As the night draws on, Dr Lomb predicted, "the smiley face" - with Venus playing the left eye and giant Jupiter the right - "will improve and become a little more compact".

If you're an eclipse junkie, that's probably just because you didn't know there were cosmic shows like this: It's an emoticon in the night sky! What could be better?

No word yet on what the universe is insinuating by leaving the US and Europe out of this smiley event, but we should probably just be happy we're not getting a constellation sad face — that's a portent of doom if I ever heard one.

Thanks to tipster Zeft!

Image from Sydney Morning Herald.

A smile that will light up the night sky [via Sydney Morning Herald]