Venus and Jupiter | Tuesday Is Show Time

I hope you have been blessed with some clear sky conditions enough to see Venus and Jupiter in the west soon after sunset. During the recent two weeks, the pair have drawn closer together. Tuesday evening June 30, they will be 1/3˚ apart, closer than the width of a full moon. They will put on an beautiful show for us.

More details about this planetary encounter in earlier posts here and here. I wish you clear skies.

My actual view June 16, 2015. Venus is the brighter one.



My actual view June 23, 2015. Same zoom as before.



Simulated view for June 30, 2015.


Climate Encyclical | Will It Move Us To Act?

There was much anticipation about the recent encyclical from Pope Francis on climate change. You can see and read the document at this link. No doubt you have seen and heard the news about it with some analysis of what is contained in it. I offer my impressions of the broad picture described in the 184 page document.

I’ve written a lot about climate change. It is one of the most important challenges faced by mankind. It will force us to deal with issues we already know about and some that we have yet to encounter. It will not go away if we ignore it.

Whether the encyclical is accepted by the world of Catholic leaders and followers will only be known by our actions in the future. There was a flurry of attention for a few days. Like many stories today, the attention has faded. I hope its messages are not forgotten.

Each chapter of the encyclical addresses aspects of the climate change problem I feel are very important. The document does not lay out a prescription for what humanity should do. It does serve as a reminder of our responsibilities to the Earth and to those less fortunate who do not have the means to help themselves easily. We all need reminders and guidance in those areas.

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Venus and Jupiter | In Broad Daylight

Friday June 19 was a special day for me. I’ve been watching Venus and Jupiter in the evenings as they have come closer to each other. They will be at an amazing 1/3˚ apart on June 30. Details of that coming event are in this previous post.

After Sunset at 9:30 pm

Weather and clouds play a big role in getting good views. The past week has been mediocre. I have viewed the pairing on three of the recent five evenings. I am trying to get a series of photographs that I can combine into a sequence to document the days leading up to the close pairing on the 30th. The view Friday evening was perfect. Plus, the new moon was nearby. Bonus points for me.


Jupiter upper left | Venus center | Moon bottom


Mid-afternoon at 4:30 pm

Friday was a beautiful clear day with low humidity. The sky was transparent blue. It was a perfect opportunity to see Venus and Jupiter in the afternoon light. I was able to view Venus and Jupiter in broad daylight when the Sun was still high in the sky at 4:30 pm. I have seen each in daytime before, but not on the same day.

I put the camera on the tripod. Using software, I looked up the time when Venus would be straight south. The software told me it would be 67˚ up in the sky at 4:30 pm. If you know where to look for Venus in the daytime, it is not hard to see with the naked eye since it is so bright. I pointed the camera and did some test shots. This was the best one.


Venus | Camera on tripod


I knew Jupiter was supposed to be close by. Jupiter is not nearly as bright or easy to see as Venus. I scanned with my naked eyes first. Nothing. I tried binoculars. Nothing. I got out my telescope. Being of larger aperture, it gathered more light for a brighter and bigger view. Don, my neighbor, walked by with his dog. He wondered what I was looking at. So, I showed him Venus. He said it looked like the crescent moon. He was correct.

After Don left, I continued to scan the sky for Jupiter. Finally, there it was! It was a perfect globe that even showed some very faint cloud bands on high power. None of the Galilean Moons was visible. I hurried into the house for the phone. It has a very good camera in it. Carefully I held it to the eyepiece so I wouldn’t bump the telescope. I tried five exposures hoping one would be ok. I was lucky. There is Jupiter in the center.


Jupiter | Phone camera through telescope eyepiece


In the evenings ahead, I will continue to get some images of the pair as they approach each other. Maybe the sequence composite will be something to share. I am looking forward to the main event on the 30th and hope we have a clear evening for it. Watch the sky in your neighborhood. Enjoy the show.

Venus and Jupiter | June Sky Show

Two of my favorite objects are planets Venus and Jupiter. They are very bright and offer beautiful displays throughout the year. Usually, they are not in the same part of the sky at the same time. During June this year, they are both in the evening sky and will put on a wonderful display. It culminates on June 30 with them less than a moon-width apart, only 1/3˚. I urge you to make a point of going out each clear evening at sunset to watch as their performance takes place night-to-night.

The site Science@NASA released this 3 minute video which shows the highlights expected during the remaining weeks of June.


As a follow-up, I used my planetarium program and screen recording software to step through the dates June 18 – July 4. The view is toward the western sky soon after sunset. I chose 10 pm, but earlier will also work well. Watch at the bottom of the screen as the mouse pointer moves the date one day at a time. Stop the video anytime, or replay, to take in the changing views. Note the thin new moon on the 18, 19, and 20th. On the 30th, the view is enlarged to show the closeness of Venus and Jupiter. You will be able to cover them both with a fingertip on an outstretched arm. Enjoy the show.


Try your hand at photographing this grouping and pairing with some interesting and creative scenes near the horizon. Mount your camera on a tripod or set it on a solid surface. Use the self-timer to avoid movement. Zoom in to frame your scene. Try various exposure settings. Be creative.

Hastert | My Link To The Story

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

The indictment of former Speaker Dennis Hastert hit the news last week. He is accused of violation of federal banking laws and lying to the FBI about it. The news came as a big surprise to most people. Hastert had a reputation as a decent and down-to-earth person.

Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in Illinois from 1965-1981 before entering politics. In November 1986, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the 14th district in Illinois. That district is a far southwest Chicago suburb.

At the same time, I was a high school teacher in a district north of Yorkville. I was active with the Education Office of Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Batavia. One of my teacher colleagues in that office was also a teacher at Yorkville HS. Another colleague was a teacher and wrestling fan at a neighboring district. Both…

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Life On Europa? | Mission To Find Out

Discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei, the largest moons of Jupiter have captivated the imagination for more than four centuries. In order from closest to Jupiter to the farthest, they are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.


With a stable pair of strong binoculars, or a telescope of low power, it is possible to see them any clear evening this spring. My desktop planetarium gave me this edge-on simulated view over the course of several days.

Tell me about Europa.