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Astrophotographer risks going blind trying to capture stunning image of Venus

A world-renowned astrophotographer risked his own eyesight to capture a stunning shot of Venus passing dangerously close to the sun.

Andrew McCarthy, from Arizona, USA, takes some of the most striking and detailed images of astronomical objects and shares them on social media as @Cosmic_Background.

When shooting his latest creation, a sensational image of Venus just five degrees from the sun, he risked his own eyesight to get the shot.

He couldn’t see his target, the “evil twin” world of Earth, until the viewfinder, so he used a filter to plan the precise moment when his camera’s lens would be exposed and to prevent both his sight as the telescope with sunlight.

“This is the most dangerous shot I’ve ever tried,” McCarthy said, adding that if he’d tried to see the shot visually, he “could have easily blinded himself.”

A world-renowned astrophotographer risked his own eyesight trying to capture a stunning image of Venus as it passed dangerously close to the sun

A world-renowned astrophotographer risked his own eyesight trying to capture a stunning image of Venus as it passed dangerously close to the sun

Andrew McCarthy, from Arizona, USA, takes some of the most striking and detailed images of astronomical objects and shares them online as CosmicBackground

Andrew McCarthy, from Arizona, USA, takes some of the most striking and detailed images of astronomical objects and shares them online as CosmicBackground

Andrew McCarthy, from Arizona, USA, takes some of the most striking and detailed images of astronomical objects and shares them online as CosmicBackground

VENUS: THE BASE

Venus, the second planet from the sun, is a rocky world about the same size and mass as Earth.

However, the atmosphere is radically different from ours: it consists of 96 percent carbon dioxide and has a surface temperature of 464 °C and a pressure 92 times that on Earth.

The inhospitable planet is shrouded in clouds of sulfuric acid that make its surface impossible to glimpse.

It has been suggested in the past that Venus probably had oceans similar to Earth’s — but these would have evaporated when it underwent a runaway greenhouse effect.

The surface of Venus is a dry desert landscape, which changes periodically due to volcanic activity.

Facts and numbers

Turnaround time: 225 days

Surface: 460.2 million km²

Distance from Zon: 108.2 million km

Duration of the day: 116d 18h ​​0m

Ray: 6,051.8 km

Mass: 4.867 × 10^24 kg (0.815 M⊕)

For the latest image, McCarthy wanted to capture Venus bathed in the light of the nearby sun – but this is a tricky photo to capture.

“Venus was so close to the sun that I had to stand in front of my telescope while shooting to use the shadow of my body to shield the focused light from the sun from the sun’s intrusion as I captured the picture” , the astrophotographer explained.

“Any wrong move while trying to find Venus could cause sunlight to accidentally fall into the scope, which would immediately ruin the camera I was using.”

Because the planet is nearly directly in front of the sun, the light appears as a ring around Venus, highlighting the hot world’s surface, as the sun spreads out into the atmosphere, creating a silhouette of the shaded surface.

‘Normally photographing Venus is no more dangerous than photographing any of the other planets. It’s not dangerous at all,” McCarthy explained.

“But on this particular day, Venus was less than 5 degrees from the sun, which was the slightest mistake, and the sun’s sunlight could reach focus within the telescope, which would be a disaster.

“My telescope was unfiltered and pointed dangerously close to the sun, at a target I couldn’t see until it was in focus.”

To minimize the risks, McCarthy spent time planning a careful approach to taking the incredibly dangerous shot.

He said: ‘I started by aiming the telescope at the sun using a filter, which allowed me to accurately synchronize the position of my telescope with the computer in the mount that controlled it.

“When I told him to slew to Venus’s position, I was able to make sure I didn’t have to spin around chasing the planet and accidentally let the sun’s sunlight fry my camera.

“Once I was sure the sunlight wasn’t in the frame, I removed the filter to observe the planet.”

The astrophotographer even made a video showing the effects of direct sunlight in a telescope — scorching a piece of wood in just seconds.

The astrophotographer even made a video showing the effects of direct sunlight in a telescope — scorching a piece of wood in just seconds.

The astrophotographer even made a video showing the effects of direct sunlight in a telescope — scorching a piece of wood in just seconds.

The planet was not visible with the filter attached, but the filter was needed during positioning to reduce the risk of damage to the camera or its eyesight

The planet was not visible with the filter attached, but the filter was needed during positioning to reduce the risk of damage to the camera or its eyesight

The planet was not visible with the filter attached, but the filter was needed during positioning to reduce the risk of damage to the camera or its eyesight

The planet was not visible with the filter attached, but the filter was necessary during positioning to reduce the risk of damage to the camera or its eyesight.

“It wasn’t without its own challenges, and it took me a few tries to get the planet in the center of the field of view, but it felt like the safest way to do it.”

The astrophotographer even made a video showing the effects of direct sunlight in a telescope — scorching a piece of wood in just seconds.

By sharing images on social media as @Cosmic_Background, McCarthy has become world famous for his amazing images of the solar system and beyond.

From comets at their closest pass from Earth to the most detailed images of the surfaces of the moon and sun, the dedicated astrophotographer spends hours staring through his telescope

Some of the images he captures, including a recent detailed image of the sun’s surface, consist of tens of thousands of photos to collect a lot of data.

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