Saturday, December 31, 2005

Venus at 7 percent

This is something of a disappointing photo of Venus. I've been watching it in binoculars as it grows into a longer and thinner crescent every day. Last night, about 8 hours ago, was the first time I could clearly see a crescent shape at a magnification of 7x. Only 6.6% of Venus' surface was illuminated. But the sky, though clear, was turbulent, and this photo through the telescope shows a crescent that's a little too fat. I took 70 photos, and this was the best. Oh well. Nice way to see out the old year anyway. On January 13, Venus will pass in front of the sun (above it, actually), and will become a morning star again. I look forward to increasingly conspicuous crescents until then.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Last day of strike

The transit strike is over, after 3 days. I've been walking across the Williamsburg bridge every day just before sunset. This is tonight's view from the bridge, with the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges in the distance, and their respective namesakes both visible.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

New Venus

Yesterday, New York had its first transit strike in 25 years. On a cold afternoon I started walking to work, from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I walked through places I had never visited before, and got some cool photos; the sky was clear and cold (really cold), on the last day of autumn. Here is Venus above the American International Building (the third tallest building in New York), as seen from Chinatown.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mars approaching the Moon

Each month, the Moon is coming a little closer to Mars. Last month they came within about two degrees of each other. This is how they looked a little over 24 hours ago, about 3/4 of a degree apart:

In fact they were close enough to photograph together in the telescope, at about 36x magnification:

On January 8, Mars and the Moon will be separated by no more than 1/3 of the Moon's width (or about 1/6 of a degree), shortly past noon in New York, just after the Moon rises. Mars will not be visible to the naked eye, but I hope to try to capture the two bodies thru the scope.

A final note for perspective. It's relatively rare for two planetary bodies -- except a planet and its own satellites -- to come so close that you can see them at once in a telescope. In fact the only other such photo I have is this one at 180x magnification, from June 26, when Mercury and Venus were just 1/5 of a degree apart (Venus is the larger one):

Monday, December 05, 2005

Conjunction in two hemispheres

Here is the Moon, approaching Venus, this past Saturday night, as seen from Brooklyn.

And here are Venus and the Moon twenty-four hours later. The moon's orbit has taken it farther to the left of the sky, as in any photo taken in the Northern Hemisphere, and it has slipped past Venus:

In Australia, Beche-la-mer caught the Moon and Venus at a midway point between these two photos: see this photo, where the moon has not yet reached Venus. In photos from the Southern Hemisphere, as I love to talk about, the moon's orbit takes it to the right of the sky.

Venus over the city

This is Venus last Wednesday, looking down Broadway, near Trinity Church in Manhattan.