June 6th, 2012

The Transit of Venus

Along with many other folks, I saw at least part of the Transit yesterday, some of it from large telescopes via the Intertubes, and some a bit more up-close-and-personal (as it were). Also along with many other folks, I want to share some of that experience.

Because of the weather, which was very cloudy, I had thought about just watching on the Net, but I ended up going to the Advanced Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University, where the Astronomy Club and the Space Department got together to provide several large screens with streaming coverage, a lecture to let people know what was going on and the history behind it, and a bunch of viewers and telescopes through which quite a few people were able to see things when the clouds finally parted a few times. Kudos and thanks!

These are about the best of the photos I was able to take with my iPhone, by holding it close to the eyepieces of a couple telescopes. (It is just an i4, not even a 4S, a fact I mention because the 4S has a significantly better camera.) The first two photos were taken through a small (probably 3.5") Meade scope, very likely a Maksutov or similar configuration; the other two were taken through a little refractor that I didn’t quite get the name of, but as you can probably tell from the rich red color it had a nice Hα filter on it. (The filter is built in, and the scope is specifically intended for looking at the sun.)

You have my apologies for the various problems, among them chromatic aberration in the first photo, motion blur in the second, and artifacts in the third; it was difficult to take these. You can barely see Venus in the final image, but the prominences at bottom and lower left show up fairly well. I will not apologize for the clouds; I think they are reasonably pretty, and except for hiding Venus in the last photo they do not particularly detract from the images.

I particularly want to thank Bokunenjin, who alerted the HacDC mailinglist to the existence of this venue, which is how I found out about it.

Best —