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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.