Sunday, June 22, 2008

Venus After Superior Conjunction

Session name: 20080621.1545

Screenshots from Planetarium for the Palm showing details of two sessions
14 Apr 2005 is upper row; 21 June 2008 is lower row

1,165 days ago >> 14Apr2005 Venus After Superior Conjunction - NYC, report submitted by Ben Cacace.
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This current session was the second attempt this week to spot Venus just past superior conjunction. After trying various methods to locate Venus, I succeeded with the drift method that Ben used more than three years ago. This is my second recorded observation of Full Venus and the closest to the Sun at 3° 32'E elongation.

The session's skies were clear with haze in the air, apparent along the horizon of our urban cityscape. Westerly winds advanced scattered clouds eastward , occasionally blotting out the Sun. Using the Bogen 410 geared head, I centered the Sun in the solar-filtered, 2.1° field of view - one barrel with a Thousand Oaks solar filter, the other capped. I raised the field of view 2 1/2° up and 3° to the left (east) then removed the cap from the other barrel to scan for Venus. Many unsuccessful attempts were made this way.

While centered in the field of view, I observed the Sun with very small, umbral sunspot 999 centered on the disk. So small that when a woman sitting next to me took a peek she claimed to see nothing but the solar disk.

"There's a little black spot on the Sun today..."

Placing the Sun at bottom center of the 2.1° field of view I waited 12 minutes for Venus to advance from the east in its apparent motion westward. When the time arrived, I uncapped the second tube and looked into the brilliance. It took seconds to adjust to looking on axis, discern the sky, and interpret the sight. Floaters and moving "visual debris" had to be dismissed. Floaters are distracting because they narrow one's focus to that object and requires refocus on the field to scan. In the field an obvious stationary, steady, round white disk stood out at 4:38 PM EDT. I tracked and timed its passage across ~75% of the field of view from 4:46-4:52. Subsequently I lost it and failed to recover it.

A view of the Tak bins set up to locate Venus.

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