Ted's Transit of Venus 2012 Page!

2012 Ted Saker, Jr. All Rights Reserved.
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Page created:  6 June 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012, Columbus, Ohio.    A major astronomical event is observable from this area: the second of two transits of Venus occurring in the 21st century, with the next one a mere 105.5 years in the future.  I missed the first of the pair in 2004, and I promised myself I would catch this event. I reserved a site at a park near my home with electricity to power my imaging rig.  I made solar filters for my 6" AT6RC to photograph in white light and mounted my Coronado PST to photograph in hydrogen alpha (deep red) light.  I spent the better part of a day testing the equipment and gauging exposure lengths.

    Weather conditions are historically favorable at this time of year, but Ohio's climate has a way of punishing astronomers for real or imagined offenses, or is merely capricious. This event proved once and for all that Ohio is a jealous climactic harridan.  Beautiful clear skies on June 4 gave way to waves of clouds on the 5th, carried southwestward on the backwash of a low pressure system that randomly developed over New England and pumped its sky-obscuring vindictiveness right over the Buckeye State all day long.   By 3:00 PM, it was apparent that my preparations had been a wasted effort.  Packing, transportation and reassembly of the imaging rig would not be a rewarding effort.  Checking the satellite images of Ohio, a wedge-shaped area of clear skies was opening up and appeared to be heading my way.  I decided to minimize the gear I took and observe. If I were to image the transit, I would have to use my phone's camera or a Kodak point-and-shoot model. 

    Arriving at the site at about 5:30 PM, I found several Columbus Astronomical Society members already set up and waiting for first contact, predicted to occur at approximately 6:04 PM.  More people joined the crowd, but the clouds stubbornly hung on.  The clear wedge lay to the west where the skies were tantalizingly bright.  At about 7:15, with the transit well underway and sunset only about 90 minutes off, I seriously considered relocating.  Jason Hissong suggested a site in northwestern Franklin County, about ten miles from the current location.  Although I really did not want to move, I felt that changing sites provided the best chance of getting a view of the transit and maybe getting a picture or two.

    As I arrived at the Outerbelt, I-270, the clouds parted and the sun shone down.  Finding the new site took a bit of doing, but the clouds stayed away.  I set up my PST and Jason, his spouse Amy, Willie Cirker, his friend, and Bill Hurley promptly arrived and set up.  Venus was well inside the solar limb by then, and we observed for about an hour before the Sun disappeared into yet another cloud bank about a half hour before sunset.  Willie and Jason took some amazing afocal pictures through their scopes and through my PST.  My cameras did not perform nearly as well, but I did manage to get a few pics out of my camera phone.  I consider myself extremely fortunate, as many friends of mine in different locations around the U.S. had worse weather conditions and missed it entirely, except for what the web had available.

    Solar system photography has always been a weak area of my imaging expertise. Depriving myself of my main equipment hurt as well.  Yet, given the adversities encountered with this event, I am happy to have seen it, and the images I acquired give me a good measure of satisfaction. There have been only eight transits since Galileo turned his telescope skyward in 1609. In view of the technological advances over the centuries,
I can only wonder about the resources available to the generation that will witness the next transit on December 11, 2117.  I hope that they will still have the same wonder  and will not have to contend with unfavorable environmental conditions that I experienced in my efforts to witness one of the rarest of astronomical phenomena.

Transit of Venus, 5 June 2012 @ 0157 UT. Taken with a Kodak Easy-shoot camera through CAS member Willie Cirker's 4.5" Newtonian in Dublin, Ohio
Transit of Venus, 5 June 2012 @ 0209 UT. Taken with a Kodak Easy-shoot camera through CAS member Jason Hissong's 8" Newtonian in Dublin, Ohio

The Mobile Group in Amlin, just west of Dublin

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