A world-renowned photographer has risked his eyesight in an attempt to capture a stunning picture of Venus as it perilously passed close to the sun.
Andrew McCarthy, from Arizona, USA, captures some of the most amazing and detailed images of astronomical objects, and shares them on social media via @Cosmic_Background.
And when he produced his latest creation, a dramatic view of Venus just five degrees from the sun, he put his sight in jeopardy to get the picture.
McCarthy revealed in detail how he captured the image of the “evil twin of Earth”, saying that the incoming sunlight was so strong that he had to protect the telescope and camera by standing in front of them to create a shadow. He continued, “Venus was so close to the sun that I had to stand in front of my telescope while filming to use my body’s shadow to block the focused sunlight from entering it while filming. If I tried to see this visually, I could easily go blind.”
McCarthy wanted to spot Venus because it was immersed in nearby sunlight, but that’s a hard picture to get.
Any wrong movement while trying to find Venus could inadvertently leave sunlight in range, potentially damaging my camera instantly.
Because of the planet’s position, almost in front of the sun, the light appears in a ring around Venus, highlighting the world’s hot surface, with the sun scattering through the atmosphere, creating a silhouette of the shaded surface.
Usually, photographing Venus is no more dangerous than photographing any of the other planets. McCarthy explained that it is not dangerous at all. But on this particular day, Venus is less than 5 degrees from the sun, which means that with the slightest error sunlight can reach the focus of the telescope, which could be a disaster.
“My telescope was unfiltered and was pointed dangerously close to the sun, at a target I couldn’t see until it was in the frame,” McCarthy said.
To mitigate the risks involved, McCarthy spent time planning a careful approach to taking a very dangerous photo.
“I started by pointing the telescope at the sun with a filter, which allowed me to precisely synchronize the position of the telescope with the computer in the holder that controls it,” he explained.
He noted, “Once I made sure that sunlight was not in the frame, I removed the filter to observe the planet. The planet was not visible with the filter attached to it,” but it was needed during positioning to reduce the risk of damage to the camera or its sight.
The astrophotographer continued: “It was not without its own challenges, and it took me a few tries before I could put the planet in the center of the view, but it felt like the safest way to do it.”
The astrophotographer made a video showing the effects of direct sunlight on the telescope, by burning a piece of wood in just a few seconds.
By sharing photos on social media, McCarthy became world famous for his stunning images of the solar system and beyond.
From comets in their closest transit to Earth, to the most detailed images of the surfaces of the moon and the sun, the specialized astrophotographer spends hours and hours staring through his telescope.
Source: Daily Mail