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Sky at Night Magazine - - IMAGING FOR SCIENCE - Paul Abel, Bri­tish Astro­nom­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion

“Mer­cury, Venus, Saturn, Uranus and Nep­tune are all fas­ci­nat­ing worlds that re­quire pa­tience and ded­i­ca­tion to ob­serve and record,” says Paul Abel, direc­tor of the Venus and Mer­cury sec­tion at the BAA. “Each has its own area of in­ter­est for im­agers. For ex­am­ple, Venus was long re­garded as the planet of mys­tery, shrouded by thick clouds. Space­craft have vis­ited the planet, and al­though the re­sults are use­ful, it is no sub­sti­tute for long-term sys­tem­atic ob­ser­va­tion of the planet.

“Vis­ual ob­servers can mon­i­tor the sub­tle cloud fea­tures from which we in­fer Venus’s four-day at­mo­spheric ro­ta­tion. Venus shows phases as it moves around the Sun, but the the­o­ret­i­cal phase dif­fers from the ob­served phase be­cause of the Schröter ef­fect. Mea­sur­ing the phase of Venus is use­ful work for vis­ual ob­servers.

“Im­agers have taken up the chal­lenge in re­cent years of pro­duc­ing stun­ning im­ages of the planet in both in­frared (IR) and ul­tra­vi­o­let (UV). In UV, the vague cloud mark­ings are trans­formed into def­i­nite struc­tures whose ro­ta­tion can be mea­sured. Other am­a­teurs us­ing IR have found hotspots on the night side of Venus – a clue, per­haps, that there may still be ac­tive vol­ca­noes there.

“The BAA ‘Mer­cury and Venus’ and ‘Saturn, Uranus and Nep­tune’ sec­tions can pro­vide ad­vice and as­sis­tance on ob­serv­ing these fas­ci­nat­ing worlds and we wel­come your ob­ser­va­tions re­gard­less of your level of ex­per­tise.“

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