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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:11 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:53 pm
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Location: Maple Shade, NJ
As most everyone probably knows, Venus reaches inferior conjunction tomorrow, October 26, 2018, at 14:16 UT1 (10:16 am EDT). Since it will be more than 6° south of the sun, I was hoping to spot Venus at the moment of conjunction, but the current forecast doesn't look favorable for tomorrow, although it's not yet hopeless.

In any case, I've been spotting Venus at irregular intervals this month as the weather permitted to "practice" for the conjunction. The past couple of days have had a nice blue sky, so I was able to spot Venus with both my 15x56 binoculars and my 85 mm spotting scope at up to 60x. The scope views have been sublime. Today, Oct 25, the circumstances (Venus' diameter, illumination and distance from the sun) are little different from what they will be tomorrow at conjunction.

More details about my Venus-spotting activities are currently at the top of my home page...

http://sjastro.org/


If you get a chance, try to spot Venus, but be sure to block the sun behind some structure!

Joe

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Joe Stieber
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:17 am 
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Joe I really wanted to try this but am so worried about hurting my old eyes. Let me know how it goes. It's kind of overcast here. The only time I have viewed Venus during the day is by leaving my scope tracking through the night and then observing during the day.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:16 pm 
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Location: Maple Shade, NJ
Ro,

The weather here in Maple Shade on the other side of New Jersey was also largely overcast this morning (Friday, October 26), although the sun peeked out a few times. However, it was nowhere close to the blue skies needed for spotting Venus in the day, especially when it’s so close to the sun.

I don’t worry too much much about my ancient eyes and the sun because I take definite measures to block it. For instance, yesterday morning with binoculars, Venus’ position favored viewing it from out front, so I stood behind a telephone pole to block the sun, initially lining myself up with the pole’s shadow. Venus was below the sun, off the right edge of the pole.

For the post-noon observation with my 85 mm spotting scope, I stood under the roof overhang of my back porch, the edge of which runs very nearly north-south. Venus was almost directly below the sun towards the southern meridian. Initially, I aimed the scope at the sun using its shadow on the ground. When a blaze of light appeared out of the eyepiece (as viewed from the side!), I moved the tripod back (to the north) until the blaze disappeared, then the sun was blocked by the end of the gutter (I also double checked the shadow). I looked carefully into the eyepiece and saw the out-of-focus gutter, then I pointed the scope down a little and started looking for Venus in earnest, spotting it pretty quickly. Since it was near the meridian, most of the movement was sideways for the 10 minutes I observed, so I kept the vertical movement locked while I followed Venus.

I didn’t get to see Venus at the moment of inferior conjunction as I had hoped, but I’m not surprised. I didn’t really expect good weather for an interesting astronomical event. I am a happy that we had good weather for the couple of days beforehand and that I got to see the sublimely slim crescent with my 85 mm scope at 60x, 21.5 hours before conjunction.

I’ve updated my web page with the final observations: http://sjastro.org

Venus’ next inferior conjunction will be on June 3, 2020, but it passes just half a degree north of the sun (center-to-center) and will be 0.0% illuminated, so it won’t be observable.

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http://sjastro.org/
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