Venus transits the Sun, 2012

Today, Venus passed directly between the Sun and the Earth, an event that only happens every hundred years or so. I was at work today, but I took one of my telescopes with me and when the transit began, about 5:09pm CDT, I set up in the parking lot and projected the image onto a whiteboard so I and my coworkers could safely watch the transit. I forgot to bring my good camera, though, so the only photos I have were taken on my ancient Nokia cell phone. Still, you can clearly see Venus, and there are 4 sunspots visible too!

Venus transiting the Sun, June 6, 2012

Venus transiting the Sun, June 6, 2012

The sunspots are very faint in this photo, and try as I might I can’t enhance them without also enhancing the background noise. But if you need convincing that they are really there, compare my photo with this image from the Big Bear Solar Observatory. It was taken a few hours later than my image, so Venus is in a different position.

So there it is! A dim dark spot inside a dim white spot. Rather boring in some respects, but this is a boredom that only comes around once a century. And when you realize that this is direct observational evidence of the Heliocentric model of the solar system, it becomes a bit less boring. People were once convicted of heresy for this kind of stuff! (If you wonder how this is evidence for Heliocentrism, consider: sometimes Venus goes behind the Sun, too!)

These photos, by the way, are proof that you don’t need fancy equipment to do astronomy. I used an old Meade Telestar 60AZ with a 25mm MA eyepeice to project the sun onto a small whiteboard inside of a large box. Then I took the photo with an ancient Nokia 6102i cell phone. The telescope is one that I salvaged from a trash can, and it has since become my go to scope for solar observation since I don’t have a good solar filter for my main scope, and I don’t care whether the Telestar ever gets damaged by the solar heat. You don’t have to be rich in order to see the Universe!