Even though I had the day off on Monday May 2nd, I awoke at my usual alarm time of five o’clock Central, hoping for a chance to see the planetary lineup visible immediately prior to dawn. I retrieved my telescope from my father’s house Sunday evening, gambling on clear skies and low humidity. I left the equipment in the trunk of my car so I would not be delayed this morning.
I drove just a couple of blocks up out of the Fawn Valley subdivision to the dead end in front of Lansing City Hall, where a clear empty lot provides a spectacular view of the eastern horizon unbroken across the Missouri River to KCI. I had just exited the driver’s side door and had my head and upper torso bent over the back seat retrieving my tripod and camera when Lansing’s finest arrived to ask if I was lost. I patiently explained I planned to watch the planets and sun rise and proceeded to setup my equipment while he back his squad car warily into the City Hall parking lot. I ignored him and began scanning the horizon for planets.
Venus had already risen, but was hidden among some tree branches, so I moved my tripod across the street and into the empty lot slightly northeast of my car’s parking spot. For the next hour I watched Venus continue to rise, and the haze continue to brighten with the advent of the sun’s dawn. At no time did I see Jupiter, Mercury, Mars or the tiny sliver of the moon left visible. I had no hope of seeing Uranis, which rose before Venus, without the aid of a more powerful telescope than I currently own.
Once I started having trouble finding Venus in the brightness of the imminent sunrise, I packed up my camera and tripod and consoled myself with a mocha from Baristas before returning home, dreaming of retiring to the desert southwest and clear, crisp mountain air free of humidity, haze, smog and other discouraging particulates.
Regardless of my Monday morning set back, I am excited about several events scheduled for this weekend in the Kansas City area. Please check out the Astronomical Society of Kansas City’s web page for details on events at Union Station and Powell Observatory Friday and Saturday night. Check out Sky & Telescope’s ‘This Week’s Sky at a Glance’ for other interesting items to keep you looking up.
Below, please find the ASKC May calendar of events: