jump to navigation

The Transit Of Venus. June 6, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today was supposed to be the last Solar transit of Venus, i.e. its passage between us and the Sun, for 105 years.

The next such transit will occur when I’m 163 years old, and I might not be looking, so I was sorely disappointed to find the day heavily overcast with intermittent heavy rain.

Oh, well.  I had bought the necessary filter to protect my camera and keep me from going blind, but the weather is the weather, and there’s no getting around that.

So instead of sitting home sulking, I went down to Northampton for the Tuesday Market and brought Musician Extraordinaire Peter Blanchette a present – a print of a photo I’d taken a week earlier.  He seemed genuinely pleased, and I was delighted by his reaction.

I bought some home-grown shitakes and headed home through the gathering gloom, then the intermittent rain, lamenting the lost opportunity for a celestial feast.

At home, I unloaded some groceries and fired up the ‘puterbox, forlornly checking the weather.  As I pulled up a graphic map of the next six hours, I saw…

…a hole in the cloud cover moving down from the North.

Shit!   A potential opening, and me sitting here at my computer!

I threw everything I thought I might need back in the car and sped southwestward toward the high meadows of Windsor, hoping my path would somehow intersect the parting of the clouds.

I got there just as the sun waxed and waned through an impending thinning of the clouds.  Setting up Gizmo and his 2X tele-extender, I noticed a knot of Cedar waxwings on a tree a hundred yards to the southeast, doubtless anticipating one last blast of sunlight before the clouds regrouped and left them cold:

They were well over a hundred yards away, but with 800mm of lens and a stiff crop, this is what I got.

I threw on my Orion Solar Filter, and suddenly the daylight became night.

To the West, the sun was showing itself through substantial clouds:

True Solar filters have a believable reddish hue, whereas welder’s glass makes viewing safe but imparts a vivid green cast to viewing.  Between the preferred fiery cast and the fact that Solar filters are made to lock firmly onto the end of a telescope (or long lens,) I was glad to have the Orion in my kit.

As the clouds thinned, I captured this image of Venus piercing the margin of the sun:

…along with a dozen or so sunspots visible at this magnification/resolution.

I was thrilled!  My expectations, dashed an hour earlier, were being exceeded by this small meteorological miracle.

The clouds wafted by in thicker and thinner bands as the sun slunk toward the horizon, and I took well over a hundred photographs, tweaking the focus and exposure in an effort to bring something worthwhile home from this last-in-a-lifetime event.

Another shot through clouds:

…here with Venus totally committed to the Sun’s disk.

I shot skads, but culled the lot down so as not to bore you.

A few more of the ones I saved:

…and finally, Sol sinking into a sea of obscurity, still early in Venus’ transit but approaching sunset here on the East coast:

The sunspots and clouds added a lot to these shots, and were accidents well outside of my doing.  But I planned ahead and drove fast and worked hard for these images, so I’m grateful for the happy accidents which augment them.

Thank you, Father Sky.


1. Bob - June 6, 2012

Let’s hear it for happy accidents (and awe inspiring photos of Ole Sol)!!!

[and for remembering passwords so we can comment 🙂 ]

2. littlebangtheory - June 6, 2012

Welcome Back, Cuz, and HOORAY for passwords (the spiteful little gremlins!) 🙂

3. Tengrain - June 6, 2012

Your venus is pretty, but I’m rather gobsmacked with the birdies!

We live in such an amazing world, isn’t it grand?



4. lisahgolden - June 6, 2012

I’m so glad you got these shots! I was in the car on my way home and didn’t even had the ability to watch the Transit via one of the observatories that were streaming it.

You saved the day.

Those cedar waxwings are a nice bonus.

5. littlebangtheory - June 6, 2012

Ten, yes, it’s grand beyond our abilities to appreciate it! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

And Lisa, squinting at this while driving had the potential to be hazardous to your health, so I’m glad you didn’t, and even gladder that I was able to fill in the gap!

6. Rachael - June 7, 2012

I’ve not visited your site in about 2 years. I forgot how AMAZING your photos!

May I download the Venus transit.jpg?

7. Miz Lu(mena) - June 7, 2012

I think I like the original composition more with the clouds than the cropped one you posted in Photographers. Venus is harder to find, but the clouds are lovely and mysterious. I will miss posting while I am traveling, so have a wonderful couple of weeks, full of pictures and dirt. And bears from afar, please.

8. littlebangtheory - June 7, 2012

Rachael, if you’re not using it for commercial purposes (resale, etc.) then yes, please do. And welcome back! 🙂

Holly, I do as well. But “Photographers” has a bit of a different skew, and the black space seemed superfluous to what goes on in the group and didn’t really let me load such a large view.

Have an amazing time in India. Oh, and bring a camera. 😉

9. Rachael - June 8, 2012

Hi again,

Thank you very much 🙂 Tell us, going forward is it possible to arrange to purchase any of these photos? Speaking for myself it would be for hanging, not for commercial use.

10. littlebangtheory - June 8, 2012

Rachael, yes to your purchase inquiry. I’m presently investigating the best options for a web presence and on-line sales, but it’s currently looking to be a bit beyond my budget.

For now, you can email me at ralphmunn@crocker.com, let me know what you’re interested in, and I’ll get back to you with a list of options and prices.

Thanks for asking! 😉

11. susancrow - June 10, 2012

I am absolutely, positively, delightfully happy to see you got these shots of the transit. They are very beautiful and most definitely among the best I’ve seen taken by anyone on the ground.

Many congratulations 🙂

12. littlebangtheory - June 11, 2012

Susan, that’s a kind appraisal of my “catch” – Thank you! 🙂

13. Cathy - June 11, 2012

stunning shots, ralph!

14. TheCunningRunt - June 11, 2012

Thanks, Cathy. Good to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: