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Good news Venus Or The Evening Star.

Discussion in 'General chit chat' started by Nubble, Dec 30, 2019.

  1. Nubble

    Nubble Donator

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    THE EVENING STAR.

    One of the planets I always look forward to spotting at this time of year is Venus. Surely one of the prettiest planets and by far one of the brightest evening stars (although not technically a star!).

    It has only recently come into view and may be of interest to some of you whilst out in the field, on your way home from work or for those wishing to impart your new found knowledge on some less knowledgeable individuals. ;)
    It is very easy to spot and will be visible, given favourable weather conditions for the following 4 or 5 months.
    It is currently visible for an hour or two after sunset in the south-west dependant on location before it disappears below the horizon.

    Easily observed with the naked eye, looking thru binoculars (10x20-10x50) or a small telescope should reveal the planet at it's best, ideally whilst we are still in civil evening twilight (after the sun has set but there is still light in the sky).
    If observing with a telescope against a totally dark sky the brightness may cause contrast issues and will wash out any possible detail visible. For those with a larger telescope you may even make out cloud formations covering the planet.

    It will gradually grow brighter as we move thru January and February and will be at it's brightest towards the end of April. It will also have the appearance of getting bigger as it will now be moving toward us having just travelled around (behind) the Sun.

    If you look for it on a regular basis you will notice that not only does it gradually climb higher in the sky becoming visible for longer after sunset but it also goes thru phases just like our own moon. Currently it is around 80% illuminated (by the sun of course). If you are really observant you will notice it's position change in relation to the background stars. ;)

    By the 24th of March it will have reached it's furthest (farthest?) eastern elongation where the planet will be at half illumination (like half moon) after which time it will be then moving even closer toward us and inferior conjunction (between us and the sun) whilst reducing in it's phase (like a crescent) when on the 3rd June or soon after becomes a morning object for a short while before becoming lost in the gathering daylight.

    Jupiter and Saturn are no longer visible during the hours of darkness but for those of us with a telescope you may be lucky enough to spot Neptune for the next week or so or Mercury (31st Jan) if you have a clear horizon.


    Basically all of that is a very long winded way of saying "look for a bright object in the south-west shortly after sunset. It's not a star but a planet! ;)


    :thumb:
     
  2. Monkeyjoe

    Monkeyjoe Busy Member

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    I love seeing Venus at this time of year... and the plough, and the North Star, and Jupiter
     
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  3. pbrown

    pbrown Very Active

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  4. FPoole

    FPoole Posting Addict

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    We have a TV series called "Ancient Aliens" and they try to credit pre-historic man's knowledge of the stars to aliens telling them about the stars. They did the same as us and they didn't need aliens. I imagine it was a highlight of their evening to sit and observe the heavens(no internet or TV). You can imagine how bright the stars were with no artificial light around and they had a lot better vision than us as well.
     
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  5. NorfolkDave

    NorfolkDave Donator

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    Very bright yesterday evening over Yarmouth.

    Very interesting thread, keep us updated with what we should be looking for.

    Dave
     
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  6. secretagentmole

    secretagentmole Low down, dirty and quiet...

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    Kings Lynn is one of the closest places on the planet to Mars. Just ask Uncle Ben...
     
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  7. Nubble

    Nubble Donator

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    Thread update,
    @NorfolkDave and any others....

    Venus continues to dominate the Western evening sky now for around 3 hours after sunset, easily identifiable as the brightest celestial body in the Western sky, as soon as the sun sets it can be picked out whilst we are still in civil evening twilight (whilst the sky is still light) approximately 40 Degrees above the horizon in the South-West.

    However, the last week or so I have been keeping my eyes peeled for a very rare sighting of the planet Mercury. It is an extremely difficult planet to observe.
    This time of year can invariably be the best time to observe it due to the clear skies quite often present at this time of year. It can be seen with the naked eye but you need extremely favourable conditions and a dose of good luck.


    Firstly - it is the closest planet to the Sun so it never appears against a truly dark sky. It is difficult to pick out due to the glow of the setting (or rising) Sun.
    Secondly - as it is the closest planet to the Sun it is never visible for any length of time, half an hour to an hour at very best when it is approaching it's greatest Eastern or Western elongation (most Easterly or Westerly point of it's orbit around the Sun).
    Thirdly - you need a clear, uncluttered horizon free of hills, houses or buildings.
    Fourthly - you need very little in the way of light pollution (forget it if you live in a city).
    And lastly - a totally clear, cloud free sky.

    To get all of the above is nigh on impossible.....

    Magically I was blessed with all of the above today. A cloud free sky had been present in Shropshire all day so I knew I was in with a chance. Conditions were next to perfect, bar my location (at work), with fantastic 'seeing' conditions, high pressure and no cloud at all.
    The number of times I have clearly observed Mercury can be counted on the fingers of one hand so I was truly amazed at the wonderful opportunity I had this evening. I first picked it out at around 17:56 and watched it for the next 20 minutes before it dipped below the houses in the photo below. The only thing I was disappointed with was the fact I didn't have a decent camera and lens with me. The best was a poor res pic with my iPhone.

    You need to look very carefully, if you are interested, but should be able to make out Mercury low in the centre of the photo just above the smallest of the 4 trees as a tiny white spec. :eek:
    It appears about 10mm above the tree in the pic. Yes I admit it is very difficult to spot and much easier when seen with the naked eye, binoculars (10x50) or a small telescope if you have one but I was still blown away by the sight of it. Venus is very easy to see top left.

    [​IMG]
    Ironically, located between the two is also the planet Neptune which is the dimmest of all our planets. This means we have the brightest and dimmest planets in our Solar System on view, although really you need a small scope to see Neptune as it is so dim.

    Whilst I doubt many of you have the time, patience or opportunity to look for Mercury I would recommend any of you to have a look for Venus over the coming few months where it will be a very impressive and dominant sight in the Western sky and very, very easy to pick out. ;)


    Another [semi] interesting fact is that for most of the last week we have had the ISS [International Space Station] passing over the British Isles and is visible for a short while (2mins) for the next couple of days.

    Timing is dependant on location but roughly as follows;
    7th Feb- 17:27 (your best chance) and again at 19:02
    8th Feb - 18:30
    9th Feb - 17:27

    It always appears on the Western horizon, travelling East and can be seen for up to 6 or 7 mins on an ideal (overhead) pass. Fridays pass (17:27) will be approx 44 degrees above the horizon. If we have clear skies on Friday for the 19:02 sighting you can observe it 'disappearing' into the Earths shadow as it passes low over the southern horizon, however it may be difficult to spot as it will only be 13 degrees above the horizon on it's second pass but could be more favourable for those of you located further south of me in the Midlands.

    If you live further East it will be a min or so later, if you live in Ireland a min or so earlier, if you live in Scotland you will struggle to see it at all.



    That's all for astronomy corner tonight, thanks for watching and see you soon.

    Nubble
    :thumb:
     
  8. jesim1

    jesim1 Kit bitch to the Stars

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    Great info, it cuts through the stuff which is baffling to us mere mortals :D

    How can you tell the difference between Mars and Venus? I know you can see them both, but often have no idea which I'm looking at?

    James
     
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  9. NorfolkDave

    NorfolkDave Donator

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    Okeydoke then, an early session in the hot tub Saturday evening to watch for the space station.

    Love sitting in there watching the satellites, glide silently by.

    Dave
     
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  10. Claypole

    Claypole Keyboard Hero

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    Mars is completely different to look at in the night sky than Venus. It’s quite a bit dimmer and usually looks noticeably red, if you look close enough. Unless you know where and what you’re looking at, though, most people would mistake it for an average star.

    Venus, on the other hand, is unmistakable. It’s brighter than any other planet or star, and it’s not even close.
     
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  11. Nubble

    Nubble Donator

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    Very easily James. They are both in different parts of the sky at the moment. Venus is (presently) visible in the evening sky after the sun sets and is incredibly bright.

    Mars is (presently) a morning object, is visible before the sun rises and is nowhere near as bright as Venus, it has a slight reddish orange tinge and once you know what you are looking at is quite easy to distinguish between the two. Having said that you would be lucky to see Mars at the moment as it is very close to the Sun (as viewed from Earth) so is very difficult to see being only about 5 degrees above the horizon.

    As Claypole says unless you know you would just think it is another 'star' but when you know what to look for the difference is fairly obvious.
    The saying 'twinkle twinkle little star' is actually quite correct. The planets (generally) don't twinkle like the stars do. Comparing the colour of them to the surrounding stars helps too.

    Knowing where they are in the sky and at what times of the year helps a lot.

    Jupiter and Saturn along with Mars are all morning objects. I much prefer it when they are visible in the evening!!


    I shall try to update the thread when they become visible in the evenings a little later in the year.

    Being able to point out the planets to people quite often blows them away. I once pointed to Jupiter in the sky, much to the disbelief of one of my friends. I whipped out a pair of binoculars and showed him the moons orbiting the planet. He was totally amazed that you could see Jupiter with the naked eye. It is quite easy to spot as it is flippin massive!!

    :thumb:
     
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  12. jesim1

    jesim1 Kit bitch to the Stars

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    Thanks, I'd be interested in this as I'm not into astronomy but things like this are easy for the layman to appreciate without going all technical and geeky o_O

    James
     
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  13. Nubble

    Nubble Donator

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  14. Claypole

    Claypole Keyboard Hero

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    The first time I ever looked at Jupiter through a pair of binoculars, I was truly amazed. I didn’t think I’de be able to see any moons, but I saw about four of them, all in a nice neat row.
     
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