Venus | Inferior Conjunction | 2017

Venus is closer to the Sun and orbits faster than Earth. Earth takes just over 365 days. Venus orbits in just under 225 Earth days. During the recent few months, Venus was bright and easily visible in the evening sky as it caught up to and passed Earth. In doing so, it came closer and appeared larger when viewed with a telescope or binoculars. This animation from a desktop program illustrates their motions. Mercury is not shown in order to simplify the view. The sizes are exaggerated.

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Venus | Morning View | 24 Mar 2017

I got my first morning view of Venus this spring at 6:45. There was a layer of high clouds to the east dimming the view quite a lot. Binoculars helped locate it for a photograph. Thanks to Scott at Scott’s Sky Watch for pointing out Venus is now visible both in the evening and the morning if the sky is clear enough. He called it a double dose of Venus.

Looking slightly north of east through high clouds.

Clouds made the image a little hazy.

There was another bonus this morning. Looking to the southeast, the waning crescent Moon shined through a clear break in the clouds.

Orchid | Finally in Bloom

After months of waiting, our orchid is finally in bloom. It was a gift from a young woman who stayed with us while she worked in a local political campaign office. It was in bloom at the time. Soon after she left, the blooms dropped off and left a bare stalk. It looked so sad. I cut the stalk and cared for the plant as best I could. I never had an orchid before. It seems to be Phalaenopsis.

A few months ago, it sent up a new flower stalk. Buds appeared and slowly grew larger. A few days ago, this beautiful flower opened. Another opened today. I hope it brightens your day.

Occultation | Aldebaran Hidden Again

Once more, the Moon occulted the bright star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus. Previous three posts are found here describing earlier occultations. I stepped out early to see if the sky was clear and got this image at 9:24 pm CST. My phone said the occultation occurred a few seconds past 9:52.

28 min prior to the 9:52 occultation

28 min prior to the 9:52 occultation

Aldebaran disappeared from view about 6 seconds into the video. I looked again at 10:33 pm and saw it had reemerged into view at the upper right of the Moon.

 

Earlier in the evening at 6:38 pm, I captured this slim crescent of Venus. It will quickly descend toward the Sun during the next two weeks and show a thinner crescent. On about 25 March, it will be aligned with the Sun and not in view. Early in April, it will emerge as a thin crescent before dawn.

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Analemma On My Wall

A prism of high quality glass sits in a south window above our mantle. It is part of a surplus optical instrument from WW-II. The window crank gives a sense of its 2″x1″x1″ size.

prism

When the Sun is low in the sky during late fall and winter, light through the prism casts a large full spectrum on the wall on the opposite side of the house. This is a closeup of the spectrum. It is always a delight to see the colors move slowly across the wall during the middle part of a sunny day.

viewspectrum

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