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Pronto Astronomy, June 2012

Started by rKGMzvFT5gL3s9, 06/03/2012 02:21PM
Posted 06/03/2012 02:21PM Opening Post
My kids and I went up to the Lake Michigan shore last night to watch the sunset. I wanted to try and see Venus just after sunset, so I brought along my Pronto and set it up near a public parking lot in Michigan. Venus is rapidly swinging between us and the sun and appears as an extremely large, thin crescent. It is no longer an evening star, and ideally is just visible right after sunset. The planet is approaching its historic transit of the sun on June 5th.

I observed the setting sun with my Pronto and Intes Herschel wedge. The wedge permits observation of the sun in its true color, and the sun appeared bright orange as it sunk towards the west shore of the lake. The sun was distinctly oval in appearance, and became more flattened over time. Eventually the sun became a crimson distorted blob with a flat bottom. This was a lot of fun, I have never watched a sunset through a telescope before.

The sky was hazy, and I figured that a Venus observation was unlikely, but after swapping out the Herschel wedge for a regular diagonal, I quickly spotted the large crescent shape. It appeared and disappeared with the clouds, but it was there just a few degrees above the horizon. I showed my children the view and jumped up and down a bit.

The gibbous moon was prominent in the east. I showed some passerbys the moon, and one was brave enough to look at the sun.

The Pronto is such a convenient scope for such excursions, and it also delivers bright, impressive views. Everyone should have one. Thanks.

Michael Aaron McNeely
TeleVue Forum Moderator