Capturing Venus in infrared
Why astronomers are looking for volcanic activity on the planet’s night side
Trying to search for active volcanoes on the surface of Venus is no easy task, but it is now within the means of amateur astronomy. The first requirement is a large aperture scope (at least 200mm). The next essential items are filters and cameras that allow you to image Venus in infrared. The surface of Venus is about 500°C and you’re going to need to image the planet in the
1020nm band. You will need to find either a filter or camera in this range (or stack two separate filters together). Hotter regions should appear as brighter spots.
The faint images will require careful processing and you will need to take several images over the course of an evening to confirm any bright spots are genuine. The best time to start your search
is when Venus is in the crescent stage, otherwise the sunlit clouds will wash out the faint nightside image. Venus becomes a crescent after 10 April 2020, so you should try and carry on as far as possible into inferior conjunction on 3 June.
For more information about the Venus night side project, see www.astrogem.com. au/Venus/nightside
Bright sparks: in 2017, small bright spots were observed on the night side of Venus (left), as captured by amateur astronomers Phil Miles and Anthony Wesley (pictured right) with their 508mm Newtonian telescope. These may be evidence of volcanic activity.