“SOLAR ECLIPSE THIS WEEKEND: On Sunday, May 20th, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun, producing an annular solar eclipse visible across the Pacific side of Earth from China to the United States. [full story] [video] [map]
VENUS TRANSFORMED: Something special is happening to Venus in the evening sky. The second planet is diving toward the sun for a much-anticipated transit on June 5-6. As Venus turns its night side toward Earth, the planet is transforming into a beautifully slender and colorful crescent:
John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio, took the picture on May 14th using a 10-inch telescope. “I was blown away by the sight of Venus,” he says. “The planet was 14% illuminated, 47 arcseconds in diameter, and blazing at -4.43 magnitude.”
The crescent shape of Venus is easy to see in good binoculars or small telescopes. No special observing experience is required. Just find Venus in the western sky after sunset (you can’t miss it), point and look. A good tripod to hold the optics steady is recommended.
As the evening wears on and Venus sinks toward the horizon, the refractive effect of Earth’s atmosphere splits the crescent into the colors of the rainbow. Kevin R. Witman of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, observed the phenomenon on May 11th: “Earth’s atmospheric refraction of Venus’s ample light made a beautiful imagethrough my 10-inch telescope.”
more images: from Sadegh Ghomizadeh of Tehran, Iran;”
(See also the previous blog post.)