On the way back from a short trip to Bedford, Lauren and I noticed someone with a tripod on the top of a hill at Hollins University. We pulled over and walked up to the man, who, I had assumed correctly, was viewing the transit of Venus through a telescope with a solar filter. Unfortunately, the clouds did not part enough for Lauren and I to get a view through his telescope, but we did talk to the nice man, for several minutes, sharing some amateur astronomy stories and shooting the breeze about a variety of topics. I was very envious of his telescope, a classic 90mm “Questar” that, as he explained, has exceptional optics for planetary, lunar and solar viewing. It is rare that I get to meet someone else with a passion for this hobby, and it was the perfect end to an exciting day of views that were literally once in a lifetime!
6:04-Venus has just begun to touch the farthest edge of the Sun.
6:10-You can just barely make out the half of Venus that is over the upper right corner.
6:22-Venus is now completely covering its little part of the Sun as it continues to sail across its surface.
6:27-Clouds and some rain have come into the area. Hopefully it will clear, but either way we got to see the transit and it won’t happen again for 105 years!
Around Six-Thirty on Tuesday, June 5th an event will occur that has not been seen for eight years and will not be view-able again in our life time, the transit of Venus across the Sun. From our vantage point, Venus will appear to sail across the surface of the Sun, leaving a very small, nearly pinpoint sized, hole on its surface. Making this event all the more exciting is the fact that this will not occur for another 100 year, so unless you are an infant or Larry King, you are not likely to see this again!
As with any solar viewing, using proper and certified protective filters and glasses is required to insure there is no eye damage that would likely be permanent. The best and cheapest way to view this transit comes from a company called “Rainbow Symphony” who have solar viewing glasses that block out all harmful ultra-violet and infrared radiation from the Sun.
As I’ve always said, the best way to enjoy astronomy is to do it with others! Invite some friends over, lend them your protective glasses and give them a taste of the excitement. Simple out reach like this can go a long way to educating the public and raising interest in astronomy as a whole.