Posted by: T. Boyd | February 14, 2009

Venus is changing! And Orion’s fantastic sword


Because Venus and Mercury are “inner” planets, meaning they are closer to the Sun than we are, they both show “phases” like our Moon.  When Venus first appears as an evening “star” it is almost “full moon” shaped.  And then as it gets higher in the sky during the following weeks, it gets slimmer and slimmer in a crecent shape, but it gets brighter and larger in diameter as it draws closer to the earth in its orbit.  Compare the sketch made two weeks ago: Jan.29 sketch, with tonights sketch:venus_13feb2009

The other surprise about Venus, which I have demonstrated twice in my observing career, is you can see it in bright daylight if you look directly at it.  The only way I have been able to do this is when Venus is a morning “star”.  I set up a telescope before dawn, centered on Venus while it was easily seen, and then tracked it during the morning until noon time.  And it was very easy to see through the telescope.  But it also could be seen by the unaided eye by sighting along the barrel of the telescope to find it.

Orion’s Sword

Tonight I returned to visit Orion’s sword after an absence of several years.  Wow!  What a sight.  This is where the 8″ diameter Dobsonian scope showed its stuff.  (I compared it with the 4.5″ diameter Newtonian which was good, but not quite as impressive).  The center of the sword contains a rich view of a nebula and many tiny, close-together bright stars.  The most interesting star group with my scope is a tiny jewel called the Trapezium – four stars that form a trapezoid-shaped pattern.  Here is a photo on another site.  My view was similar to that photo without the color – all I can see with the 8″ scope is a faint white cloud.

The book of Job mentions both Orion and the Pleiades, which I will describe maybe next time.

Job 38:31“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?

May the creator of the universe, who is also a personal friend, bless you all this weekend.


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