Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We saw it

Did you get a chance to see the transit of Venus, either live or online? After seeing only a small glimpse of the annular solar eclipse a few weeks ago and feeling like I was depriving my child of significant scientific event viewing opportunities, I promised myself we'd try to get out to see the transit.

Our local astronomy club had telescopes set up at a park/natural area on the way south end of town, and as the time to leave drew closer, there were clouds in the sky and a little bit of rain. But then the sun peeked out and I decided we'd give it a try.

On the way, I tried to explain what I had heard about why the event was significant. It only happens twice every 100 years or so. There was one in 2004 and the next won't be until something like 2117. Previous transits (I'm still not clear on how they know this stuff) were significant because they helped scientists measure the size of the solar system. Until then, they didn't really know how big it was, and got the answer from triangulating measurements taken from various points on Earth.  I love that scientific history stuff. Apparently it was quite an undertaking. The shot below was taken in 1882.

The folks with their scopes were helpful and accommodating. We looked through several, and one person had the image projected on a piece of paper, so several people could see at once. We saw sunspots, too, and when the view was at its best, saw some solar flare activity. All in all worth the trip, although after we were there for about 10 minutes, the clouds obscured the view.


  1. Isn't it great fun to share things like this with the kidlings? They cherish the oddest things too, something like this may seem like small potatoes to us but it will loom large in their memories and that's what counts.

  2. So totally cool! No chance to view it here, but I did watch online. It's like a 'virtual' experience...


Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.