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Re: Fact, opinion or just BUNK?



In a message dated 95-12-01 22:26:08 EST, tuckr@digital.net writes:

>[Example (from a question someone called in to the 
>planetarium today): Is there anyone on this list who *doesn't* know that the

>Moon sometimes is visible during the day . . .  and why? E-mail me 
>privately, and I'll be happy to explain.]

Just to get off the dinosaur track for a little while--

Some people, indeed, don't realize that the moon is visible during the day;
but far fewer know that the planet Venus is visible during the day (or for
that matter, know what the planet Venus _is_), IF you have a nice pair of
11x80 binoculars (heh heh) and know exactly where to point them. (It is
sometimes visible as a little dot in broad daylight, but not at crescent
phase.) Several years ago I had the pleasure of showing the daytime Venus to
a hairdresser who worked in the salon below my office in San Diego. It was
the exact day of conjunction, when Venus was most directly between the sun
and the earth, and it was high noon. This is when Venus is closest to earth,
so its disk, most of which is dark but which shows a thin crescent, has
particularly large angular diameter (and in fact it is the third largest
astronomical object, after the sun and the moon, at this time). All you had
to do was make sure the sun was hidden just below the roof of an adjacent
building (so you don't get an eyeful of solar light and blind yourself
permanently) and scan the clear blue San Diego sky directly north of the sun.
Bang, there it was, like a little fingernail paring about six degrees away
from the solar disk. The man's chin nearly hit the pavement.

Those binoculars also came in handy when I made a little hobby of trying to
see the moon at less than one day old. (San Diego has these perpetually clear
skies that are wonderful for spotting the very, very thin crescent of the new
moon in.) It's eerie to see the micro-thin lunar crescent, not even halfway
around the moon's rim, in the binoculars just after sunset but to see not
even a trace of it with the unaided eye.

--End of wistful reminiscences