Friday, September 6, 2013

Venus... the planet

Finally. Clear skies have dared to show themselves after the rainiest and cloudiest summer in years. I almost forgot the sun's warming touch and what it looked like. And the moon and stars? It's been so long, it's like a whole new experience.

But what's that bright star in the west just after dusk? No star at all, it's Venus shining brightly. On September 8th the young crescent moon will be close to Venus and the star Spica. Also on the 8th and 9th another faint 'star' will be close to Venus. This is actually another planet, Saturn, getting close to the end of its viewing season as it starts its leisurely slide behind the sun. The two planets are 3.5 degrees apart. This appears about three fingers in width on your outstretched hand. Check these two out with the wide-field view of binoculars.

Venus is somewhat of an enigma through the telescope, not much to look at because of its cloudy surface, bright and shimmering in the unstable atmosphere close to the horizon. What's interesting, however, is that it goes through phases like the moon and the planet Mercury. Sometimes Venus is a dazzling thin crescent shape and other times nearly full with plenty of variations in between. A green Wratten filter helps steady the telescope view.

Venus is known as the bright morning star as well as the evening star. But you'll never find it overhead... only east in the mornings and west in the evenings. Why is this? Both Venus and Mercury are closer to the sun than we are. We orbit around them and the sun; they can't travel around us so they'll always appear only in the east or west.

If the night is clear check out the glittering jewel Venus, sparkling brightly in the west just after sunset.

By Paul M. Schofield, posted on his Goodreads blog.


  1. venus the planet, paul schofield, from his blog: " great weather report rough mt. country and high peaks and deep valleys. I here ya. no good here either as ohio river valley heat and humidity have tied into global warming tends locally and no good. a lotta sun and high humidity for four weeks, really something as august late has been cool down period for us over he years.has been 85-92 degrees can u believe it? but poetry abounds and love conquers all, even the weather."

  2. Interesting post, Paul. It must be nice to know so much about those lovely stars, but I'd expect you to know being a future science writer of the trilogy, Trophy.
    I will look for Venus after sunset one clear night.

  3. Paul,
    This is very interesting about Venus. I'll be sure to look for it one clear night.


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