CROSS your fingers, toes and everything else for a break in this awful weather as the weekend approaches, because we really need the rain to stop and the clouds to part if we're going to see something beautiful in the sky - a close encounter of the celestial kind between the Moon and the brightest planet in the sky.

Look high to the west after 6pm on Thursday February 27 evening and you'll see Venus shining there, looking like a silvery-white spark in the twilight. You'll also see a lovely crescent Moon close to it, a little way down to its lower left. The two will look stunning so close together, and if the sky is really clear we should also be able to see the dark part of the Moon's face lit with the subtle bluish-pink hue of "Earthshine" - sunlight bouncing off Earth's oceans and clouds to illuminate the part of the Moon not lit by direct sunlight. Follow the pair as long as you can, and look at them through binoculars if you have some because they will enhance the eerie lavender shades of the Earthshine and the purples and golds of the twilight sky behind the young Moon.

If you don't have binoculars try taking a photo of the pair with the camera on your phone - it should be good enough, although the Moon will look very small.

The following evening, Friday, the Moon will have moved a little further to the west and away from the Moon, but it will still be close enough to Venus in the sky for the two worlds to make a very attractive pairing. Earthshine should still be visible, but not with the same lovely hues seen on Thursday evening. By Saturday night the Moon and Venus will have moved well apart but will still look very pretty together.