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THE TRANSIT OF VENUS IN NEW YORK ------------------------------ John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc www.nyskies.org firstname.lastname@example.org 2012 April 29 initial 2012 Jun 1 current
Introduction ---------- This article discusses the Venus transit of 2012 June 5 from New York City and surrounds. It gives the significant information to organize your observing but skips most of the historical and technical aspects of the event. The transit is already a substantial portion of litterature, in print and online. Much is an accumulation onto the material issued for the 2004 transit. There is no similar page here for the 2004 transit because it preceded the NYSkies website. Information about that transit was disseminated to City astronomers thru the NYSkies yahoogroup and takeaways at various astronomy meetings around the City. Many facts & figures here are adapted from other astronomy sources while others come from my calculations or simulations via computer astronomy programs. Much of the advice here is similar to that for viewing the Stonehenge sunset on Manhattan. The transit and Stonehenge occur a few days apart under about the same regime of weather and summer conditions.
June 5th or 6th? -------------- Understand well that in New York, and all of the Western Hemisphere, the transit occurs on June 5th and NOT on the 6th. This is due to two causes. The first is that the middle of transit, for which the time of occurrence is typicly cited, does fall on the 6th. The event spans about six hours, from the late hours of June 5th and early hours of June 6th n Universal Time. The start of the transit is at about 22:05 UT on June 5th The other reason is a timezone shift. New York time is four hours behind Universal Time. That is four, and not five, due to Daylight Savings Time prevailing during the transit. The beginning of the transit in New York is near 18:05 on June 5th. This table shows the times of the transit in UT and EDST. UT is also known as GMT. All hours here are geocentric. ------------------------------------------ location | zone | contact I | middle | contact IV ----------+------+-----------+-----------+----------- Greenwich | UT | 22:09 5th | 01:29 6th | 04:49 6th New York | EDST | 18:09 5th | 21:29 5th | 00:49 6th ---------------------------------------------------- The confusing region of the world is the Pacific Ocean, where the transit if visible from start to end in midday. The hours span the International Date Line. Observers west of IDL see it on June 6th and those east of IDL see it on June 5th!
Viewing site ---------- There is no special location in and around the City to view the transit. Like for a lunar eclipse, any place that offers a clear line of sight to the Sun is quite good enough. Because the transit continues thru sunset, the prime factor to look for is a low northwestern horizon around the summer sunset point. A high skyline will shorten the duration and extent of the event, which continues out of sight behind such obstructions. Elevation to look over foreground skyline; waterfront looking over large waters are the two principal types of viewing site for a view of Venus.on the solar disc. The transit takes place on a weekday afternoon. Essentially all places with public access will be open anyway with no need for special permission. As long as the group with you is small, casual, and well- behaved there'll be no trouble setting up in a public place to view the transit. If you intend to invite many people, like friends, to a private property, please obtain beforehand proper permission from the property manager. This will prevent nasty interventions by the manager during the viewing. Usually all that's necessary is a due & proper notice to the manager that so-many visitors are expected on such-&-such day and time for a few hours, like for an afternoon social. The one sticky factor could be your proximity to a sensitive facility that doesn't like spying. Your astronomy gear could be taken as part of suspicious action against the facility, like a monitoring or targeting apparatus, You may have to show to the police what's what. Have with you Venus transit litterature for the police.
Public viewing sessions --------------------- In late May 2012 astronomy groups thruout the zone of visibility of the transit are planning public viewing sessions. These are typicly gatherings in open fields or yards where local astronomers have properly protected telescopes to let visitors see Venus on the Sun. Please know that only such sessions are we are advised of can be enrolled here. A session away from our attention will be missed. Like for any celestial viewing the transit is observable only in clear sky, with some tolerance for thin cloud and haze. Clouds thick enough to erase shadows, rain, strong wind, service disruptions, among other causes, can call off a scheduled session. Follow the advice of the sponsor. This is given when inquiring about the session or in litterature sent to you, like by email. In general, dress for the prevailing weather plus reasonably anticipated adverse weather, ========================================== Sessions start at 17:00 unless stated otherwise. Info is correct as at 2012 May 29. Viewing is cancelled for clouds unless stated otherwise. The viewing site is NOT always the same as the club's normal meeting site. OBTAIN LATEST NEWS DIRECTA MENTE FROM THE CONTACT BEFORE HEADING OFF TO THE EVENT!! Skipping this crucial step could cause devastating ruination of our Venus transit experience. ======== CONNECTICUT ----------- Danbury CT. Westn CT St Univ, Midtown Campus, Sci Bldg roof. Free. www.wcsu.edu/starwatch ----- Greenwich CT. Curtis Elem Schl, Bowman Obsy. Astro Soc of Greenwich. Free. email@example.com, www.seocom.cgfom/asg, ----- Stamford CT. Stamford Musm, Plm. $3 adm. Indoor show, telecast of transit, talk. Clearsky outdoor viewing. firstname.lastname@example.org www.stamfordmuseum.org ----- Westport CT. Rolnick Obsy. Westprot Astro Soc. Free. www.was-ct.org ===== LONG ISLAND ----------- Jones Bh LI. Roosevelt Natr Ctr. Amat Obsrs Soc. 17:30 in-house observing, 18:30 public viewing. $4 adm, adv regn reqd. For clouds, relocate to Sunken Meadow St Pk, else cancelled. Stargazing after sunset requires previously obtained permit. email@example.com, www.aosny.org ===== MANHATTAN --------- Amer Musm Natl Hist, Rose Ctr, 81 St entrance. $12 musm adm. Indoor show, telescast of transit, no outdoor viewing. www.amnh.org ----- Harlem Central, Powell Bv (7 Av) & 125 St. Columbia Univ Obsy. Free. outreach.astro.columbia.edu ----- Intrepid Musm, Pier 86. Intrepid Musm & NYSkies Astro Inc. $5 adm to pier, ship is closed for Enterprise prepaaration. Rain shelters on pier. Personal starviewng after sunset on adjacent pier 84. www.intrepidmuseum.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com ----- Riverside South Park, 70 St entrance. Amat Astro Assn. Free. Supper break after sunset, then return for starviewing. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.aaa.org. ----- The High Line, 14 St entrance. Amat Astro Assn. Free. Supper break after sunset, then return for starviewing. email@example.com, www.aaa.org. ----- Union Square, 14 St & Broadway. CoLUMBIA uNIV oBSY.fREE. outreach.astro.columbia.edu/ ===== NEW JERSEY ---------- Beachwood NJ, Jakes Br Cnty Pk. Astro Soc of Toms River Area. Free. www.astra-nj.org, firstname.lastname@example.org ----- Booton NJ, NJ Rte 80, Exit 19, eastbd overlook. Sheep Hill Astro Assn. Free. www.sheephillastro.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org ----- Morristown NJ, Morris Musm. Morris Musm Astro Soc. Free. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.morrismusem.org ----- LebanOn NJ, Teetertown Ravine. NJ AStro Assn. Free. www.njaa.org ----- Livingston NJ, Riker Hill Art Pk. Newark Musm & No Jersey Astro Gp. Free. email@example.com, www.newarkmuseum.org ----- Princeton NJ, Princeton Univ, Peyton Hall, Amat Astro Assn of Princeton. 16:00. Free. Indoor show, then outdoor viewing at Engineering Quad parking deck. Return to Payton Hall for telecast of rest of trasnit. For clouds, entire show is at Peyton Hall. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.princetonastronomy.org ----- Sandy Hook NJ, western tip of peninsula. Amat Astro Inc. Free. www.asterism.org, email@example.com ===== QUEENS ------ York College, 160 St & Archer/Lberty Av. Free. View by projection. www.york.cuny.edu/centers-institutes/observatory, firstname.lastname@example.org, ===== STATEN ISLAND ------------- College of SI. Astrop Obsy. Free. Whitelight & H-alpha viewing. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, supernova7.apsc.csi.cuny.edu ===== UPSTATE ------- New Paltz NY. SUNY New Paltz, Lecture Ctr. Mid-Hudson Astro Assn & SUNY New Paltz. Free. Indoor talk, then oudoor viewing at Coykendall Sci Ctr. For clouds, telecast of transit. www.midhudsonastro.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org ----- Sleepy Hollow NY, Phelps Meml Hosptl Ctr, James House. Westchester Anat Astro. Free. www.westchesterastronomers.org, email@example.com =====
Travel for viewing ---------------- It is not necessary to leave new York to see the transit, unlike for a total solar eclipse. Unless you have convenience to be else where, the view from the City is really a good one. The farther west in the United States you are located, the longer the view and greater the extent is because the transit begins earlier on the clock in the local timezone. Sunset is more or less the same, depending on latitude, at 20:20 in local daylight time. Your astronomy gear could be inspected at airports, with potential for confiscation! Have with you at ready litterature about the transit to show the security agents. Offer to have certain items packed for checked baggage if there's concern about having it with you in the cabin, Be prepared to repack your baggage by modularizing your gear.
Stages of the transit ------------------- The progress of venus across the Sun is marked by several stages, or contacts. The transit begins when the disc of Venus first touches that of Sun, they being tangential on their external edges. This is first contact or contact I. For whitelight solar observing, typical for viewing with front-end solar filters or projection, this contact is not actually seen. Instantly you see the tiny notch of Sun eaten out by Venus, first contact is already passed. When the discs are tangent on their internal edges, venus is just completely onto the Sun. This is second contact or contact II. venus marches across the Sun to the far side and hits contact II and IV to leave the Sun's disc. For New York the Sun sets long before these contacts. The middle of the transit is when Venus is halfway along her track across the Sun or when she is closest to the center of the solar disc, with minimum separation from it. This stage is not obvious, but can be deduced by measuring from photographs. It is not all that important because it's the contact times that fix the end points of the track across the Sun. The transit begins in New York at 18:03 EDST. Venus procedes into the Sun's disc and is about 1/3 way along her path when the Sun sets. We do not get the midpoint of the transit yet still are treated to a 2-1/2 hour show. This is the order of a lunar or partial solar eclipse.
Local circumstances ----------------- Since the City was founded we experienced seven Venus transits as at 2011 with three more in the next hundred and so years. The extent of the transit visible from the City cover all possibilities. ------------------------------ extent | years ----------------------+------- none visible | 1631 1761 1874 2117 in progress at sunrise | 2004 in progress at sunset | 1639 1769 2012 fully visible | 1882 2025 ----------------------------------- The table below gives specs for all ten transits. The first row gives the date, the UT hour for each contact, minimum separation of Sun and Venus in arcseconds, and Sun's right ascension and declination. The date, like for the 2012 event, is that prevailing at the midpoint of the transit. See that the first and second contacts occur before midnight; third and fourth, after midnight. The second row gives the Greenwich Sidereal TIme at 0h UT for the date, altitude of the Sun for each contact, and notes about the extent of transit visible from the City. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Local Circumstances for Transits of Venus: 1631-2125 from New York City. Geographic position: Latitude: N40.717, Longitude: W74.017 --------------------------------------------------------------------- Date I II mid III IV Sep" SunRA SunDE ----------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ------ ------ 1631 Dec 07 03:52 04:59 05:19 05:40 06:47 939.3 16.912 -22.64 5.045 -68d -72d -71d -69d -59d none visible 1639 Dec 04 14:57 15:15 18:26 21:36 21:55 523.6 16.738 -22.34 4.888 22d 23d 23d -2d -5d I, II, mid visible 121-1/2 years 1761 Jun 06 02:02 02:20 05:19 08:18 08:37 570.4 4.957 22.69 16.988 -15d -17d -26d -11d -8d none visible 1769 Jun 03 19:15 19:34 22:25 01:16 01:35 609.3 4.805 22.44 16.842 55d 52d 20d -9d -12d I, II, mid visible 105-1/2 years 1874 Dec 09 01:49 02:19 04:07 05:56 06:26 829.9 17.056 -22.82 5.182 -48d -54d -70d -67d -63d none visible 1882 Dec 06 13:57 14:17 17:06 19:55 20:15 637.3 16.881 -22.56 5.025 15d 18d 27d 13d 10d all visible 121-1/2 years 2004 Jun 08 05:13 05:33 08:20 11:07 11:26 626.9 5.121 22.89 17.137 -26d -26d -11d 17d 20d III, IV visible 2012 Jun 06 22:03* 22:21* 01:30 04:32 04:49 554.4 4.969 22.68 16.991 24d 21d -11d -26d -27d I, II visible 105-1/2 years 2117 Dec 11 23:58 00:21 02:48 05:15 05:38 723.6 17.201 -22.97 5.320 -27d -32d -59d -71d -69d none visible 2125 Dec 08 13:15 13:38 16:01 18:24 18:48 736.4 17.026 -22.74 5.163 10d 13d 26d 23d 21d all visible * Topographic times. All others in this table are geocentric. ------------------------------------------------------------ I grouped the transits in their 8-year pairs. The pairs are spaced over a 100 years apart. I note the approximate interval between the pairs. This means that any living person may witness at most two transits, those of the pair occurring in his lifetime. Not every one will be so lucky. With current, extended, lifespans, you could live entirely between transit pairs and never witness the show. The transit times in this table are geocentric EXCEPT for the two starred times in the 2012 event. These are the topocentric times for the geographic location of New York, are closer to the observed time. For the others, geocentric, ones the observed times may differ by up to 10 minutes. Further more, the Sun's actual altitude may differ by up to 2 degrees from this table due to the geocentric approximation and atmospheric refraction.
Nearby towns ---------- I give here the specs for a few nearby towns to allow some interpolation for sites a little ways beyond New York. Like for solar and lunar eclipses and lunar occultations, you are ready a few minutes ahead of time. ------------------------------------------- Location 1st contact 2nd contact ---------------- ----------- ----------- name EDST alt EDST alt ---- -------- --- -------- --- Albany, NY 18:03:45 24 18:21:24 21 Hartford, CT 18:03:43 23 18:21:22 20 New York, NY 18:03:47 24 18:21:26 21 Philadelphia, PA 18:03:50 25 18:21:30 21 ---------------------------------------------
Path in the sky ------------- For New York and generally thruout the NYSkies turf the transit begins, first contact, when the Sun is in altitude 24 deg, azimuth 280 deg. He travels in sensibly a straight line diagonal to the lower right to set in azimuth 301 deg. Azimuths are geographic, not Manhattan grid. A viewing site suitable for the Stonehenge sunset may be good for the transit if it offers also a sightline over this path of the Sun. One restricted to the gorge between towers along a street will not such a suitable site. The table here gives the altitude and azimuth of the Sun for New York City to help select an observing site. It is substantially the same thruout the NYSkies region. ----------------------------------------- EDST | event | Sun al-az | remarks ------+-------------+-----+------+-------- 18:03 | 1st contact | 24d, 280d | Venus hits Sun, 12:30 on limb 18:21 | 2nd contact | 20d, 285d | Venus fully on Sun disc 20:25 | sunset | 0d, 301d | Venus 1/3 across Sun disc 20:57 | civil twilt | -- | end of daylight activity 21:40 | nautl twilt | -- | full night in New York -------------------------------------------------------- The moment of sunset wanders a couple minutes among references due to the method of calculation and the allowance for air refraction.
Venus on the Sun -------------- The transit is like an eclipse where the covering body is way too small to fully hide the Sun. Venus when in front of the Sun is quite 1 arcminute diameter against the Sun's average 31 arcminutes. The dot of Venus is tiny, just barely within discernibility by good eyesight with suitable protection. Some people will spot this dot. Others miss it. Any binoculars or spotting scope will clearly distinguish Venus from a sunspot and allow you to follow her progress across the Sun. Venus is a black perfectly round dot that obviously moves over the Sun within several minutes. Sunspots are irregular shaded patches that stay put on the solar disc during the transit. . Venus enters the Sun quite at his upper limb, near the 12 o'clock point around his disc. Venus travels diagonally to the lower right toward the 4 o'clock point. She doesn't reaches even halfway there before the Sun sets.
Sun-Venus size ------------ Seeing Venus, and also Mercury, marching across the SUn vividly compares the linear size of a planet against the globe of the Sun. Most pictures in astronomy boos and articles, even those meant for instructing in the science, make the planets grossly too big, large fractions of the Sun's size. In fact, from a remote viewpoint, it would be real tough to tell that there is anything circling the Sun.When detected, the planets seem like mere specks. The largest of the planets, Jupiter, is just about 1/10 the diameter of the Sun (but barely 1/a000 his mass!) and Earth is about 1/100 that diameter. Venus, being a little smaller than Earth, is alson about 1/100 the solar diameter. As a side-by-side comparison during the transit, Venus is actually TOO BIG against the Sun! Venus is about 1/3 as far from us as the Sun and appears about 3 times larger than if she was adjacent to the Sun. Even with the too-large venus, you see just how humongous the Sun is against a planet.
Venus atmosphere ------------- While viewing the Sun at the ingress of Venus you MAY witness an incredible feature. Sunlight COULD be spread around the edge of the venus disc thru her own atmosphere, making a subtile outline off the edge of the Sun. This was seen by some -- but not all! -- observers at the 2004 transit from new York. At that time venus was leaving the Sun, having been already in march on the Sun at sunrise. An other effect happens just when venus is fully on the Sun, at second contact. She pulls with her a thread of black 'mucus' like thick ink, that finally snaps loose to leave clear Sun all around Venus. This is the 'black drop' effect, also witnessed by some -- but not all! -- observers in 2004 from the City. Altho the cause is still unsettled the black drop ws captured from spaceprobes examining transits of Mercury in reent years. Such views rule out a terrestrial origin in the air. There could still be some instrumental cause in the way sensing devices, including the human eye, rcords the contact between Venus and Sun. These two effects are seen, assuming the usual viewing methods, only thru a filtered telescope that makes a comfortably large Venus image. They are not discernible in low power or binoculars.
Weather ----- The transit of Venus on 2012 June 5 is only a few days after the first of New York's two Stonehenge periods. The situation for viewing both events is about the same. The Venus transit takes place in the New York summer hot & humid season. You could be waiting for the sunset under oppressing uncomfortable conditions. In such combination of temperature and humidity, the body can not transpire properly, leading to sweatiness, drowsiness, internal loss of water. Wear light loose clothes, have a bottle of fresh water. Walk and climb stairs slowly, don't run or jog. If feasible, view at a site with nearby shade like trees or walls. Bring a folding stool or chair to rest on. A battery -- or solar! -- powered fan can be very refreshing. One horrible threat against comfortable transit viewing is the late afternoon thunderstorm. You could be trapped in one because you'll be under the open air for several hours watching Venus creep over the Sun. In New York commonly on the summer days a tumultuous storm erupts in the mid to late afternoon, throwing many centimeters of rain with blinding lightning and crashing thunder. The typical storm lasts only a half hour, but hour-long deluges are annoyingly frequent. On the whole, regardless of the start and duration, the storm abates before sunset. This behavior of a common summer storm can knock out much of the viewing period for the transit. There's nothing to do but take to shelter and wait it out. It is prudent to have totable equipment which can be scooped up and carried to safety, Else have at ready tarps to cover heavier bulky gear. You could be soaked thru and thru, taking on a nasty disheveled feeling. The ground and street furniture may still be wet. Grassy sites may still be soft and squishy under the foot. In the event of the afternoon thunderstorm, arm yourself with newspaper to lay on wet furniture, be willing to take splashes and drips.
Rainbows? ------- While the Sun is setting in the northwest, the antisolar point is rising in the southeast. If there was a rain moving eastward after it stops over you, there is the chance to spot a rainbow. On the whole, storms sweep over the City from west to east, When the sky is clearing in the west near sunset, rain could still be falling in the opposite direction. This makes a wall of raindrops catching the rays of the setting Sun to generate rainbows. There's plenty of slack time to turn around and look away from the Sun and look for a rainbow. The shadow of your head is the center of the rainbow. Because of a rainbow's large diameter, about 45 degrees, you should ideally be at a site with an open view to the east and southeast. With a street hemmed in by towers, you may see only the upper segment of the bow centered over the street. Nothing is promised, even if there was a rain that by sunset is retreating into the east. The rain may have ended, moved out of alignment with the Sun, or shrunk too small to make rainbows. You could get a double or multiple bow! The extra ones are outside of, and concentric with, the main bow. Photographing a rainbow is a bit tricky. Metering off of the sky itself can produce an overexposed picture. The rainbow is diluted with weak color. Meter off of the foreground scenery, lock the setting, and shoot with it at the bows.
Clouds ---- The transit is more like a lunar eclipse, a leisurely show lasting many hours. A passing cloud only momentarily interrupts your viewing. You may still observe the transit thru the thinner parts of clouds but the thicker parts may dim the Sun too deeply. Haze and certain clouds may diffuse the image, turning Venus into a soft fuzzzball. You'll recognize her by the perfectly round shape and steady motion across the Sun. On the other hand a diffuse Venus will weaken the effect of her ingress onto the Sun. Never remove your solar filter to watch with only a cloud to attenuate the solar rays! This is a most dangerous tactic! Leave the filter in place and wait for the cloud to thin out or move away.
Bare-eye view ----------- For the transit there is no cause to inspect the Sun by bare eye, even tho he may be tempered by cloud. It is unlikely that you can see Venus against the solar disc, even tho in theory it is just within bare-eye resolution. Thru safe filters, like the front end filter of your telescope held before the eyes, you MAY can spot the black pinprick of Venus. This is still a feat of keen eyesight. If you show the transit to others, For this reason I feel it is hazardous to hand out the solar glasses, like those for solar eclipses. In an eclipse there is gross change in the appearance of the Sun that is readily seen thru these glasses. In the transit, Venus is at the threshold of resolution for good vision and people may miss seeing her. The possibility arises that people may fiddle with the solar glasses in hazardous ways or try to see Venus without them. Children away from supervision may horse around with the glasses. Disastrous consequences can result from such unstructured use of the glasses.
filtered view ----------- ALL optics used for direct viewing the transit MUST have solar filtration devices fitted to them. Those used for projecting the Sun onto a screen MUST be guarded or shielded against looking directly thru them. Regardless of your personal experience with fitlered solar viewing, please mind well that other people observe your actions, which speak orders louder than your words. Stay well within bounds of safe operation for solar viewing apparatus. Have a properly-made solar filter for the front end of your optics. There is no safe filter for the back end at the eyepiece. If your scope has a filter fitting over the eyepiece, please discard it before it falls into ignorant hands. Do not try to make your own filter with assorted dense materials. There are articles out there that piously claim that a such-&-such snack bag plastic is safe but there is no simple and sure way to tell if the sample in hand is that certain kind. By April and definitely by May 2012 there could be few solar filters left in stock at astronomy dealers. In addition to the transit there is an annular eclipse in May in western United States and a total eclipse in the South Pacific in November. These caused extra demand for solar filters. I hope you still have suitable filters from previous eclipses or the 2004 transit.
Projected view ------------ Projection onto a screen from your optics is a safe way to show the transit to many people at once. Guard the instrument by barriers or shields against looking into its eyepiece. Venus is easily spotted in the projected image and she can be marked on the screen to show her progress across the Sun. A sun-cone or sun-funnel can be made from cardboard and tracing paper. The narrow end is strapped around the eyepiece. The wide end is covered with smoothed and taped tracing paper. The Sun is focused thru the eyepiece onto the paper to form an enlarged image. It is viewed on the paper from the wide, upper, end of the cone/funnel. Projection usually lets the full strength of sunlight into the telescope, strongly heating the eyepiece area. The scope should be capped orcovred between views. Pinhole projection, common for solar eclipses, will not show Venus. She is too small and will be diffused out of sight. Imaging devices, cameras, are a possibility. attached to the eyepiece end of the scope and displayed on a computer or television screen this method can accommodate a large number of viewers. Make SURE your apparatus is rated for direct input of solar rays! Even with a front-end filter some imaging units could be burned to death by sunlight entering them. Consult with the device manufacturer. In case of clouds you can arrange viewing by Internet taken from an other location in the clear. Test the availability and reliability of Internet signal at your viewing site before the transit.
Helioscopic views --------------- I use this term to mean specialty devices to observe the Sun in other than plain whole-spectrum white light. Typical examples are hydrogen-alpha and coronascopes. These will show amazing structure on the Sun that changes within minutes but suffer from severely dim image under outdoor daylight. You may have seen the SUn thru one of these devices at starparties or conventions and had to hood yourself to keep daylight out of your eyes. The sight of a inky black Venus spot sitting on top of a solar flare can be incredible! An other possibility is that the helioscope may show prominences or flares right at the ingress point. Venus could then be silhouetted against that feature before she enters the solar disc! This could be a way to alert others in your party, observing in white light, to be ready for the first contact.
Photography --------- Photographing the transit is the same as taking pictures of the Sun for an eclipse. You may attach the camera to the eyepiece end of the telescope with the dame couplings and fittings and use the same settings for exposure. For digital images, you have the chance to edit the pictures to remove defects like light leaks and flare. Hold the camera up to but not touching the eyepiece. Aim straight into the eyepiece, keeping the camera optical axis (centerline of the lens) in line with the exit beam of the scope. The viewing screen of the camera is a far better means of framing than the viewfinder of a chemocamera. You may have to block stray light from intruding into the camera with a dark cloth loosely wrapped around the camera and eyepiece. Hold your breath, stand still, gently press the shutter button. Let the camera do its thing. The major defect you'll suffer is focusing. If you can force the focus to infinity, do so. Else hope the camera relaxes to some far setting when confronted with a strange scene like the inside of a telescope. You can photograph the projection screen as an ordinary landscape scene with no special adjustment of the exposure. Keep direct sunlight out of the camera by shading its lens with your hand. This same method works for photographing a computer or television screen. Be sure to take pictures of the people and scene at the viewing site! These pictures give extra significance to the transit images.
Simulation -------- To cover interruptions by clouds you can run a simulation of the transit with a computer planetarium program. Use the 'realtime' feature to run the animation in pace with the sky. You have to do a time set to get the computer clock in synch with true local time. Lacking a computer you could build a mechanical model from a thin steel white=painted sheet and a round magnet. Move the magnet over a drawn solar disc in step with the progress of the transit.
Conclusion -------- This is the second of the current pair of transits, the previous one being in 2004. After this one there are NO MORE chances for the next 105 years! Neither you nor anyone living today nor anyone born in the next decade or so will ever see the next pair of transits. They come in 2117 and 2125. The killer is weather. This slaughtered many expeditions in the 1760s and 1800s, treks litterally lasting months from Europe only to end with astronomers huddled in a tent pelted by heavy rain. In spite of advances in science and industry we still can not confidently foretell weather even a few days in advance! Yet, and I kid you not, when I asked around for a global visibility diagram of the 2012 transit, there were none of modern design. I had to avail of charts from my transit of Venus textbook that was in wide use thru the whole of the 20th century. It was written to prepare for the previous pair transits in -- hold your hat -- 1874! Yes, it is spot on for delineating just where the next transits, in the appallingly far off 21st century will be visible .
Last update on 03 June 2012
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