The Astronomical Society of the Toms River Area

Venus in Mid-Day
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Author:  JoeStieber [ Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Venus in Mid-Day

After leaving a doctor's appointment around noon today (April 18), I drove to the uncovered top of the adjoining parking garage in Cherry Hill, NJ. It's the fifth floor, is usually vacant and offers a broad vista on the surrounding area. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies, so I was looking around with the 10x50 binoculars that I keep in the car.

I saw a few hawks, then I decided to look for Venus. Checking SkySafari on the smartphone, it was about 32° from the sun at the 4 o'clock position. I got myself in the shadow of a light fixture, and using my outstretched fingers to gauge the distance from the sun, spotted Venus fairly quickly at 12:15 pm EDT. The silvery glow of bright Venus against the blue sky is always remarkable to me, and the crescent shape could still be discerned 24 days after inferior conjunction (a later check of SkyTools indicated it was 16% illuminated).

Once I knew exactly where it was (from the binocular sighting), I tried to spot it with unaided eyes. I did lock on once for several seconds, but I could not repeat the sighting, so I would label the unaided sighting as a "maybe."

Next, I set up the 85 mm spotting scope I keep in the car. Using the tree method, I quickly found Venus in the scope (i.e., find an object in the binoculars, drop straight down to an identifiable tree, or other landmark on the horizon, then point the scope at the same tree/landmark and sweep back up to the object). The crescent was quite lovely at 60x, having a slim banana shape and cusps pointed away from the sun. Even though the seeing was hardly perfect, it was better than what one usually sees after darkness falls, especially as Venus nears the horizon. The view was also improved by the dazzling brilliance seen in a dark sky being subdued by the bright blue background, although the silvery luster remained.

It was a fine sight.

Author:  doctorcos [ Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venus in Mid-Day

Venus looked very good through a telescope during the day at NEAF (Northeast Astronomy Forum) on April 8. The crescent was sharp because Venus was high in the sky. The blue sky background also made this image appealing.

Author:  JoeStieber [ Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Venus in Mid-Day

The downside with my location yesterday was that being on the top floor of a parking garage, I was on a concrete deck baking in the bright sunlight, so there were probably some local temperature effects detracting a little from the seeing. From what I've seen of NEAF in pictures, the solar observing appears to be on a grass lawn, which is much better at not generating thermal currents. The garage itself is also subject to some vibration from traffic in it. At one point, the image went really shaky. When I looked up, another car had just driven onto the top deck and parked across from me. A lady got out and then walked down the deck (which is really a shallow, rectangular spiral). I suspect she was an employee getting some exercise during lunchtime. It wasn't my original intention to go up there to look for Venus, but once I was out in the open under a nice blue sky, looking for Venus was inevitable -- and I'm glad I did.

While Venus against a blue sky is indeed appealing from an aesthetic standpoint, the reduction in contrast between her and the background sky is also beneficial for an improved view. You don't have all the flare you get from a dazzlingly bright Venus against a dark sky. In that regard, I've found that viewing Venus with a scope in a dark sky is often improved by using a moon filter.

Author:  doctorcos [ Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venus in Mid-Day

The solar observing area outside the NEAF gym was where I saw Venus. The ground was indeed grass.

Thanks for your insight that Venus actually looks better when the contrast is low. That never occurred to me, I guess because good eyepieces have high contrast.

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