Dangerous but Beautiful: The Inferior Conjunction of Venus

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From Spaceweather.com


Aug. 7, 2023: (Spaceweather.com) Observing Venus this week may be one of the most dangerous things you can do with a telescope. The planet is only 12 degrees from the blinding sun. The results, however, are undeniably beautiful:

Philip Smith took this picture in broad daylight on Aug. 6th from his home in Manorville, NY. “This is exactly how it looked,” he says. “The colors have not been altered.”

Like the Moon, Venus has phases, and at the moment it is a marvelously thin crescent. This happens during a special time called “inferior conjunction” when Venus passes between the sun and Earth. This year’s inferior conjunction is less than a week away on Aug. 13th–so now is primetime for catching the crescent.

Smith explains how he did it: “The hardest part was finding Venus with the sun so nearby. I put solar filters on my telescope and started with the sun to get a good sharp focus. Then I had the telescope go to Venus. I took off the finder scope’s solar filter first and put my hand behind it to make sure the sun was not in its path. Then I removed the main telescope’s solar filter–and all was good!”

At closest approach on Aug. 13th, Venus and the sun will be separated by a little more than 7 degrees. This means careful daytime shots of Venus will be possible throughout the conjunction. Got a picture? Submit it here.

more images: from Mariano Ribas of Buenos Aires, Argentina; from Daniel Mello of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; from Robert Spellman of Apple Valley, CA; from Bum-Suk Yeom of Iksan, South Korea; from Philippe Tosi of Nîmes, France

more observing tips: from Sky & Telescope