Ten days late in getting the word out, a third of the month already gone, but at least the new moon is approaching, providing perfect viewing opportunities for dark sky observing. April 2012 is Global Astronomy Month and according to my local astronomy club, the Astronomical Society of Kansas City (ASKC), the week of April 23 is Astronomy Week.
Soon after I returned home from work Tuesday evening, Terry suggested that we take Apollo to the dog park. I briefly thought of just taking Apollo for a walk around the neighborhood, but my legs kept shaking from the first workout I’d done in nearly a week. I capitulated and led Apollo out to the car on the long leather leash. We arrived at the dog park a bit after seven o’clock. We only saw four other dogs in the ‘large dogs’ side of the park. As I took Apollo off his leash, he loped over to two dogs, one of which was leashed, to make some new friends. Those two were on the way home, so that left only two other dogs to meet and greet.
We wondered around the back half of the park, strolling leisurely through the trees and watching the sun slowly sink in the west. As we continued on towards the southwest corner of the park, I remembered an article I read recently that stated I should be able to see Venus during daylight hours this week. I placed my right hand between my eyes and the sun and looked up away and to the left. For the first few minutes, I could not see Venus. But I kept trying and eventually, I found it, shining brightly more than thirty or forty degrees away from the sun, with the sun still about five degrees above the western horizon. You can estimate degrees while observing astronomical objects by using the width of your fist from top to bottom held at arm’s length, which equals about 10 degrees.
I tried to take a photo of Venus and the setting sun with my cell phone camera, but upon review, I can’t find Venus in the shot I took. I’m not entirely convinced I succeeded in getting both the planet and our sun in the same field of view. My reading glasses were in my purse in the car, so I took a leap of faith and prayed I succeeded when I clicked the shutter (or whatever virtual equivalent my cell phone camera sports). Here’s the photo, but I can’t find Venus in it:
I tried to direct Terry to spotting Venus, but his prescription sunglasses were too dark and too out-of-date to be of much help. I sent a Tweet from my phone as soon as I found Venus and spent the next few minutes enjoying the view.
We wondered back east along the fence and met up with the other two dogs. A squirrel taunted them from a few feet away on the other side of the fence. One of the dogs, some sort of hunting breed, kept barking at the squirrel, who ignored all the dogs.
The sun began setting and we herded Apollo towards the gate. The dog park is only open from sunrise to sunset so our brief play time rapidly came to an end. We made sure Apollo got a good drink of water before loading him back into the car and returning home.