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Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Can Polaroid Sunglasses Help You See Venus in the daytime?

Sadly, no.

As those of you who frequent this blog know, I'm a bit obsessed with seeing Venus in the daytime. I recently had a birthday, where I turned 1.03 Chiron years old. One part of my birthday present was a pair of polaroid sunglasses. They are great for getting rid of glare, and I wondered if they would help picking up Venus in the daytime.

Now, Venus's light is polarized, but I was hopping the dimming of Venus would be relatively small compared to the dimming of the sky. Nope, not a bit.

The polaroid specs DO help though. While the contrast between Venus and the bright sky isn't enhanced, they do reduce the interference from "floaties" the bizarrely moving objects you can see when looking at the clear sky. As these floaters are actually inside the eyeball, there is not much you can do about them, but I found that the darkening of the sky with the polaroids greatly reduced the floaters, and made me less distracted, so finding Venus was slightly easier.

On Thursday 6 March Venus and the thin crescent moon are very close, so after watching the spectacle of Venus, Mercury and the Moon in the morning, try and see Venus in the daylight using the Moon as your guide. The above diagram shows Venus, the Moon and the Sun at 8:00 am daylight saving time. Venus is two fingerwidths above the Moon. It is easier to pick up Venus in the morning when the sky is not so bright. Look for the thin crescent Moon, and Venus should be visible as a bright dot just above it. Make sure the Sun is hidden behind something solid like a building or a wall when you are looking for Venus, not trees or your hand. Exposing your eyes to the glare of the Sun can be very dangerous.

These aren't the best conditions. Venus is relatively dim, and fairly close to the Sun , so the sky is relatively brighter. Also, the Moon is only 4% illuminated, so it will also not be that obvious in the sky.

Still have a look and see if you can find Venus, it's not often you can see a planet in daylight (and do take care of your eyes). If you miss out, then take a look at this amazing gallery of amateur Venus images, it's incredible!

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Are you sure that Venus can be seen wearing polaroid sunglasses?
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