Oops! Apparently I've accidentally deleted all of my images. I'll see about fixing that soon.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Transit of Venus

Today's post is a little different from normal: no sewing, no minis. Why? For the last time in my lifetime Venus was transiting the sun.  

Just like when you view a solar eclipse, you should not look directly at the sun.  Many schoolchildren the world over have created pinhole viewers from boxes or paper bags with which to view such events. I used an old mailing tube that usually holds my drafting assignments from highschool.

tube, foil over one end, pinhole in foil

But then I thought, "a longer tube will get me a larger image!" So I grabbed this fabric tube and gave it the same foil & hole treatment.

if long is good, longer is better, right?

It was cloudy most of the afternoon while I waited for the 6pm-ish start of the transit so I only got to test them out a little beforehand.

So just what is the transit of Venus, anyway?

Lol no. via

Venus is closer to our sun than we are, so occasionally it comes in between us.  This is just an ordinary day for Venus, but it's a fun astronomical treat for us here on Earth.
via NASA.gov

And it won't happen again until 2117, so unless within my lifetime life span is markedly increased, almost no one alive now (and old enough to appreciate it) will be alive to see it then. It seemed worthy of a little party to me.

our Venus Transit cookout fare

It wasn't long till the transit was about to begin, so my husband and I headed outside to try out the viewing tubes.  I had a couple pieces of white cardstock to hold at the viewing end of the tube for us to view the image on.


The large tube did, indeed, give a larger image but was soooo much harder to site/ aim.  Also, as you might expect, the image wasn't as clear.

About half an hour into the transit

Nevertheless we could see the transit happening (in between cloud passes) even if it was practically impossible to capture on the camera what we were seeing with our eyes.

After texting back and forth with my family I remembered that we could also use binoculars to view it.  The image would be smaller but much clearer.


Hard to photograph, the camera is at a fairly steep angle to the paper which is why it looks like an ellipse and not a circle, but we could clearly make out Venus as well as a couple of sun spots.

My mother had much better results with her small telescope.  In fact it makes me wish a little bit that I would have dragged the whole family and anyone I could think of up to her place to see it like that.

Venus & sunspots clearly visible

I thought you might enjoy a few more 'professional' photos.  Well, NASA thought so, too, so they set up a flickr group for people to submit photos to.  There are some really awesome ones there. I've pulled just a couple of them out for you to see here:
Sunspotter by Victoria Carpenter

Transit by razc

Additionally, some of my favorite views of the transit come from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager at the Solar Dynamics Observatory. They have plenty of additional awesome images of our Sun and video of the transit on their website so you should totally go and check that out.  



We were able to watch a live video feed (which was especially nice after the sun ducked behind clouds, trees, and houses here) of the transit from the observatory at Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

They had several different filters they were switching between, each giving a slightly different view of what was going on on the sun.
Mauna Kea observatory

And they also had some beautiful (sort of) live shots streamed in from the SDO. 


It's just gorgeous, if you ask me.  There are videos available on NASA's transit website here.

Happy Friday, all!

PS: Velkommen to whomever it is from Denmark has been reading my blog posts this week!


  1. This is one of my favorite of your posts and not just for obvious reasons - I just love astronomy! Great post!

  2. Thanks, Mom! And thank you for sharing your photo. I really should come up more often for stargazing nights with you :) We haven't done that since the Perseids two summers ago!

  3. We also watched this on a live stream on NASA WEBSITE. It was so cool, It was night time here. It was amasing. You are the only other person I know who knew about this or was interested.

  4. I'm super excited that you watched it, too! Though, I must admit I'm a little disappointed to hear that no one else you know was interested in it at all. Sometimes it's hard to be as excited about astronomical events you can't directly see from where you are (like when there is a total solar eclipse but it's only visible from the middle of the pacific, or if it's just completely clouded over here) but I can't help but still be intrigued and interested in such events. Again though, stoked to hear you were watching it online, too :)


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