Binocular Observing: Saturn

Named after the Roman god of wealth and agriculture, Saturn's reputation has varied dramatically across cultures, being associated with extreme abundance and misfortune alike. Fortunately, antiquated notions of astrology have…

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Binocular Observing: Venus

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Our closest planetary neighbour in orbital proximity and size, Venus, was thought to be Earth’s twin, until probes of its surface exposed a very different reality. Its dense, corrosive atmosphere, a hundred times thicker than our own, conceals a surface shaped by turbulent volcanic eruptions and violent impact craters.

Venus was the first planet to have its path across the sky studied – records of its motions from as early as 2000 B.C. have been found.

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Binocular Observing: Mercury

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Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System, and the first planet from the Sun. Its tenuous atmosphere can’t trap the Sun’s heat, so days are fiery at over 400°C, and icy nights drop to nearly -200°C. If you were to stand on the line of shadow separating day and night, you would simultaneously burn and freeze to death.

From our perspective, Mercury is void of any interesting surface details.It’s a tough planet to spot with binoculars, but once you locate it, it’s quite unmistakable.

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Dark Adaptation

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When you move from a really bright room into a darkened one, it takes a little while for you to see clearly. This is because certain muscle groups in your eyes need to be activated to allow your pupils to dilate. The bigger your pupils get, the more light your eyes can gather from your surroundings, and the more you can see. Many psychotropic drugs engage these muscle groups – that’s why your pupils dilate when you’re on them.

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