Sunday, April 29, 2012

Venus Shines At Its Brightest Right Now

The planet Venus is now, in late April, at its brightest. It appears in the western sky just after dark and into the evening. While it shines brilliantly, actually only about 1/4 of Venus is illuminated. We are seeing only a crescent of Venus.

Why is Venus brightest when we are seeing only 1/4 of the planet illuminated? It's because Venus and the earth are very close now. When Venus is full, it is very far away, on the opposite side of the sun. Now Venus and Earth are on the same side of the sun.

Gazing into the night sky, especially with binoculars or a telescope, is one of the simplest but most awe inspiring things we can do. You can see the stars and planets best from a very dark place, where there are no streetlights, businesses, headlights, or other forms of "light pollution."

1 comment:

middletowneye here, adding information to this post. said...

in addition to the planets that are visible with the naked eye, weekly public observing at Van Vleck Observatory on the Wesleyan campus is held on Wednesday evenings during the normal academic semester. Please check the Wesleyan Events Calendar to see if classes are in session. We invite members of the Wesleyan and Middletown community to come view the skies through our telescopes. The telescope are open from 8:00 - 9:00 pm, however not all objects of interest may be available throughout that time. This event is free and open to everyone. Wednesday night observing will not happen during University holidays or during final exams.
Clear skies are mandatory.
Wesleyan University Astronomy Department
Van Vleck Observatory
96 Foss Hill Dr.

The phone number for the department office is 860 685 2130.

How to get to Van Vleck Observatory

Directions to the Wesleyan campus.

From Washington St. (Route 66) turn onto Vine St. which is at the end of Route 3.

Take Vine St. south until it dead ends into Church St.

Make a left on Church and drive to the first Stop sign.

Make a hard left and follow the campus road up to the observatory.

Parking is available for guest speakers, faculty and staff at the observatory. Others should find street parking off campus or use the V lot on Vine St.