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Old June 2nd, 2004, 04:01 PM   #1
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Venus in Transit, June 8th

Howdy from Texas,

On Tuesday June 8th, the planet Venus will transit the Sun. That is, from our point of view, it will pass between us and the solar disk. Due to the inclination of the orbit of Venus compared to Earth, this is a super-rare event which has not been seen since 1882. It'll happen again in 2012 but afterwards will not occur until 2117.

I'm wondering if there are any other astronomy nuts like me on our boards, who are planning to (safely!) observe this transit. It's not visible in central Texas (or points west, up to and including Hawaii), but fortunately I'll be in Atlanta that day on business travel so I'll have a chance in the morning of observing the final 30 minutes of this six-hour event.

Folks in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India are in prime positions for viewing -- that is, under guidance from well-trained astronomical viewing parties with the proper equipment who have taken the appropriate safety measures (in case you didn't know, looking directly upon the sun without proper protection could result in permanent blindness). Indirect viewing of a projected solar image is the safest method.

For more information, see www.vt-2004.org/.

How does this relate to media? Well, the adventures of the previous viewing expeditions of the 18th and 19th centuries would make a great movie. Scientists of that time were attempting to use the Venus transit as a way to measure the Solar Parallax, from which they could accurately calculate the distance from the Earth to the Sun (the elusive "Astronomical Unit," which in turn would determine the true scale of our solar system, and could be used to measure stellar parallax, to find the distance to nearby stars). These transit expeditions were a monumental effort of international cooperation and scientific achievement, and some of these trips packed enough real adventure to make "Indiana Jones" seem like a cake walk. Here's a screenplay begging to be written!
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 07:04 PM   #2
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Hi,

I live in England, and had heard about this rare solar event, and hope to see it. I will try to view it, either by using a very dark specialist uv cut filter, or just project it through some binoculars onto a piece of white card. I have done this before to view sun-spots with good results.

I have been interested in astronomy for many years, I try to go look at the stars whenever it is clear at night, which isn't all the time in the UK ;)

I had a holiday to Cornwall (South coast of England) in `99, to view the solar eclipse, but it was cloudy :-( It went dark though which was quite strange.

Anyways, hope other people can see the Venus transit,
Dave.
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 05:41 AM   #3
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Thanks for the tip. I have special glasses from the last solar
eclipse so I'll see if I can see something overhere!
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 08:37 AM   #4
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The Solar Eclipse happened on my Birthday. It was quite a magical day. I managed to film it, being that the clouds were masking it slightly and I was wearing UV cut filter glasses. I'm glad it didn't fry my CCD.

If itís not overcast then I'll try and have a look.
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 01:49 PM   #5
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It's early in the morning Ed, so the sun isn't too strong yet
perhaps?? (for your camera)
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Old June 4th, 2004, 02:22 AM   #6
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Safest way for the eyes is to try & project the image of the sun on a white screen or something, using a lens on a tripod (make sure the screen doesn burn up with the heat!) Should be do-able and it shouldn't matter if the image is reversed.
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Old June 4th, 2004, 01:37 PM   #7
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Chris,
I also enjoy amateur astronomy. I have made solar filters for my astronomical binoculars from Baader AstroSolar Safety Film that permits easy and safe viewing of the sun. Bummer that the Venus transit won't be observable from our Texas location.

For anyone interested, I got my Baader AstroSolar Safety Film from Astro-Physics in Machesney Park, Illinois (you can find them on the web). This filter material is easy to work with and gives outstanding views of the sun where the solar disc is white and the surrounding sky is jet black. It makes viewing sunspots a breeze.

Nick
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Old June 4th, 2004, 05:34 PM   #8
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Stick around Nick,

The next Venus Transit happens in 2012, a mere eight years from now, and should be visible throughout North America. The planetary clockwork governing our solar system provides for an odd cycle of Venus transits. They occur only four times every 243 years, in pairs separated by eight years, with about a century off in between pairs.

The cycle is 8 years, 105.5 years, 8 years, 121.5 years, 8 years and so on. Previous transits happened on December 9th, 1874 and December 6th, 1882. Nobody alive today has ever seen one. If you miss your chance next Tuesday, you've got another shot at it on June 6th, 2012. After that, it's up to your great-grandchildren or their kids, on December 11th, 2117 and December 8th, 2125.

Sure appreciate the tip on the solar filters, as I'm in the market for a good pair of astronomical binoculars myself... looking into 20x50's or 30x80's if I can swing it.

Rob, I sure hope you check in on this event as you're in a prime location there in Europe... anyone who plans to see the transit should read up on VIEWING SAFETY as it is highly critical! If you don't use the projection method then the only safe way to view it directly is through #14 welder's safety glass, or approved solar eclipse glasses.
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Old June 4th, 2004, 06:21 PM   #9
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Please don't consider me completely ignorant- Just not overly enthused by Astronomy. I usually sleep through most occurances, and cuss in the morning.

Quote- "it will pass between us and the solar disk" What exactly is going to happen? Is it passing between us and the Sun? How close will it be? How would it differ in appearance from a regular eclipse? Anything we could catch on video, without frying the cam?
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Old June 4th, 2004, 07:52 PM   #10
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Keith

Here's a very good site which explains the Venus Transit, and it will also host of live webcast of the event on Tuesday.

I wouldn't point your cam at the sun without protecting it with safety glass as described above -- one piece of welder's glass for your cam and one for you!

The orbital plane of Venus is tilted somewhat relative to the orbital plane of Earth and most other planets as they rotate around the sun. This is why a Venus transit is so rare. It can only occur when Venus and Earth are in alignment with the sun at one of the only two points where their orbital planes intersect.

To give you an idea of what it will look like through the safest method of viewing -- indirect projection -- this page has a QuickTime in timelapse fashion assembled from photographs of the most recent occurence of the transit, back in 1882. Hope this helps,
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Old June 4th, 2004, 09:10 PM   #11
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So... Just a spot crossing the sun? Thanks for the lesson Chris. I'll watch the webcast, and save my eyes ;)
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Old June 4th, 2004, 10:59 PM   #12
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Yeah, Keith... if you're not into astronomy it probably seems pretty boring... the webcast would be a good idea!
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Old June 7th, 2004, 01:44 PM   #13
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I'm guessing it wouldn't be a good idea to try to record this with just the built-in ND filter on the gl2. Would it?
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Old June 7th, 2004, 05:11 PM   #14
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No. It would NOT be a good idea! You'll fry the CCD block.
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Old June 7th, 2004, 06:14 PM   #15
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I think Hoya make a ND 200 filter for photographing/filming the sun, and making very long exposures - for soft water effects etc.
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