Saturday, February 28, 2009

More window views

A few days ago, during one of the frequent rain squalls which are common in our city, a momentary break in the clouds was the cause of a beautiful rainbow. The picture on the left was taken from the front stairs. The rainbow appears high in the sky, because it was late in the day, around 20 minutes before sunset.

This picture was taken through the living room window. Notice the secondary rainbow, the intense colours, and the difference of the sky colour inside and outside the rainbow.

Last night, Venus (at the moment the evening star) and the Moon were in conjunction, an astronomical term for the appearance of two or more objects close to each other in the sky. It does not mean that they were physically close, it is just a view from our perspective on Earth. In reality, Venus was about about 140 times further away than the Moon. Click on the picture for a larger view. The view is through my double-paned office window. It was taken with a 200mm Sigma zoom lens, set at 200mm. This is an enlarged section of that image.

Venus also shows a crescent, just like the Moon (both somewhat distorted, due to the window glass). If you have a reasonable pair of binoculars (7x50 or 10x50, say), and mount these on a photo tripod, or hold them very steady, you'll also see the tiny crescent of Venus. You'll be able to look at Venus for the next couple of weeks, or so - weather permitting. Look for the brightest star in the west after sunset. Its crescent will grow a bit larger and get thinner as Venus moves closer to Earth towards the line between Earth and the Sun. This also means that Venus will set in the west sooner and sooner after sunset. On March 27, it will pass north of the Sun (don't try to look for it then - you could damage your eyesight if you look directly at the Sun!) and then become the morning star.

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