Cap­tur­ing Venus in in­frared

Why astronomer­s are look­ing for vol­canic ac­tiv­ity on the planet’s night side

Sky at Night Magazine - - AT A GLANCE -

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.

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