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Happy new year to all my readers and followers. I hope you have had a good festive break. Mrs Geek and I went on a cruise to the Canary Islands, Lisbon and Madeira over Christmas to get away from the cold and damp North West of England. During our holiday I was hoping to do some star gazing from the upper decks, but sadly the lights on the ship and the full Moon were just too bright to enable me to make out the fainter stars 😦 and I was unable to see the Milky Way.  You may remember we were also unable to see a single star from the Kielder Observatory, but that was because of complete cloud cover.  At least we saw some sunshine during the day on this trip!

Images of the month January 2016

For the next few months, in addition to my normal posts, I will be posting a shorter  “image of the month” post.  My image of the month for January 2016 is actually one quite ordinary image from NASA plus two very much more exciting images from the Japanese Akatsuki spacecraft, which were produced shortly after it went into orbit around Venus last month. For the full story on this spacecraft click here. In what is known as ‘visible light’ (see below), Venus is a fairly featureless object:


Venus as seen from Earth in visible light – Image from NASA

The wavelength of the different colours of light is measured in units called nanometres, normally abbreviated to nm. 1 nm is equal to one billionth of a metre. The human eye is sensitive to light with wavelengths in the range of 380 nm to 750 nm and we call this range of wavelengths ‘visible light’.  However, at different wavelengths it possible to see structure in the clouds on Venus. The following images were taken by Akatsuki at different wavelengths.

This one was taken in ultraviolet light at a wavelength of around 300nm, which is a shorter wavelength than the human eye can see:

20151209 Akatsui

Venus in UV light- Image from JAXA

This one was taken in infrared light at a wavelength of around 2,000 nm, which is this time a longer wavelength than the human eye can see:

Venus in IR light

Venus in IR light -Image  from JAXA

I hope you like these images, and that we can look forward to many more images of Venus from Akatsuki over the forthcoming months.