Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Transit of Venus

My friend Kacey, who is also into astronomy, invited me to join her this evening at Notre Dame.  The university was holding an event for the transit of Venus that was opened to the public.  They had set up telescopes and passed out solar shades to those who showed up early.  Since the next transit is in 2117, I'll either be dead or downloaded into a cybernetic body so I thought that I should make an effort to see it.
I was fortunate to get to see the planet during first contact--when it came into contact with the sun disk's edge.  It looked like the sun had a small nick.  We had thought that we wouldn't be able to see Venus using the solar shades.  We found out though that it is hard to see but it is possible.  We were able to see more of the transit on our own without needing to line up at another telescope.

For most of the time though, we were inside where a lecture hall had a live feed from other telescopes.  In the room we were in, we could see a feed from Notre Dame's own telescope as well as one from the Maura Kea Observatories in Hawaii.  An instructor (I assume) held a Q & A.  I was impressed with myself in being able to answer most of the questions asked... at least if I was asked them.
After one last look, with the solar shades, I was done.  I mean, I'm not gonna watch a dot cross sun for the next three or so hours.  Still, I had a good time and I was glad that I was able to witness it happen with my own eyes (even if assisted with filters).

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