The 2012 June 5-6 transit of Venus (ToV) is over, and there won't be another one till 2117! Many RASC members successfully viewed the ToV here and abroad, and you can find the graphic record of the observations―and of the astronomers making them―here.
Note: all images are copyright of the attributed photographers and graphic artists, and must not be used without prior permission
James MacWilliam, Sunshine Coast Centre
James MacWilliam writes:
Leading up to The Transit of Venus - billed as the biggest event in Astronomy - there had been much discussion in the club about publicity. Some people said “we need TV, Newspapers, Radio, massive publicity -lets get everyone down there for the greatest show on Earth!”. I instantly flinched, picturing hoardes of excited visitors under a rain soaked 'Greatest Show on Earth' banner. OK got to stay positive but realistic I thought. Somewhere in between 'American Idol' and a one line ad in the paper is what we need. We did put up posters and there was mention of the event in the local papers. We had already missed the Lunar Eclipse earlier this year - turning up at oceanside at 3 am to total cloud cover. Then May 20th for the 74% eclipse of The Sun where I had actually handed out eclipse glasses to colleagues at work - and we had some minor publicity - and Rain!
But think positive, we live on The Sunshine Coast - people move here every day from -40 degree Montreal to +10 degree Vancouver (nearby). Its June 5th, its almost summer - what are the chances of bad weather ...
June 5th - Took the day off work, got up at 9 am. Raining ... bad start, but it could brighten up, there is the whole day to go yet. Went for lunch and was sitting in the car eating my chicken strips when up through the sun roof I noticed the Sun almost poking through the clouds.
I checked my watch, 2.20 pm - The Transit was due to start at 3 pm. I headed down the highway back to Davis Bay by the ocean - better get setup I thought, if the sun is only visible for just a few minutes I want to be ready for it. As I headed from Gibson’s to Sechelt I kept glancing up through the sun roof at the cloud shrouded sun. When I arrived at Davis Bay where the club was meeting, several club members were already there - standing around talking. The sun had shrunk back into the clouds. I had a secret weapon though to keep my spirits up. The day before, I had bought some of those yellow lens sun glasses that block UV and are good in low light. They instantly make a dull day look like the sun is shining.
A couple of members disappeared within minutes, and never came back. My theory is they panicked and decided they would have a better chance somewhere else within driving range.
The TV Crew arrived - what? Who called them? I had setup my scope - an Explore Scientific 152mm Refractor with Thousand Oaks Glass Solar Filter on a Sky-Tee Mount. The TV Camera pointed my way (oh no, not me again) and the reporter said "I just want to ask you a few questions about the club and the event that's happening here today" - OK if you must ...
I blabbered on about Captain Cook, safe solar filters and the club while glancing up at the sky from time to time. The clock marched on - then about 4 pm, I glanced up and saw the sun skimming through the thin cloud. "There it is!" I shouted, everyone donned their solar glasses and strained to see the solar disk. But it was not strong enough to be seen in the eclipse glasses through the thin cloud layers ...
I looked up with just my yellow UV glasses on and even briefly, stared (mustn't stare ...) at the cloud dimmed sun - I hoped my UV blocking glasses would protect me. Also I had read if you can look at the sun comfortably – e.g. through fog, mist etc, then it was relatively safe to look. Don't quote me!
I clearly saw the solar disk, but there was too much cloud shrouding the sun to see the dark shape of Venus. Then for another few seconds the sun did split the cloud and we donned our solar glasses again. This time we did glimpse the disk at full intensity - but only for about 10 seconds before it faded below the glasses threshold again.
My cell phone rang and it was my astro pal - Ed who had split town for Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island - the only place with a clear forecast. Ed said he arrived just before first contact, had setup and was filming the whole thing! Well done Ed we said. We signed off and saw that to the west at least blue sky was visible.
As the afternoon wore on, the blue sky came nearer and nearer but by 8 pm the trend reversed and I think we all realised we were going to be shut out after all.
On the plus side, many visitors talked with us about Astronomy, the club, the transit, and about Telescopes and there was quite an excited atmosphere. Those of us that hung out until the last chance, packed up at 9.20 pm about ten minutes after sunset.
Next day on TV, Sunshine Coast Magazine came on and there we were (there I am blabbing) talking about the transit. While we had been talking - reporter had turned her TV Camera skyward to the sun skimming through the thin cloud and whoa -there it was - the dark marble of Venus about mid-way across the solar disk. She had filmed what we just couldn't see ... Amazing!
The way I see it - If I had just stayed in bed and The Transit had appeared I would have been kicking myself for the next 105 years. But I was there - ready - and gave it my best shot. There's nothing more I could have done to make it happen, so I can rest easy. It was after all a good day - lots of pals - lots of scope talk - a Transit Cake and a few 'almost' moments.
Alex LeCreux, Halifax Centre
I was very fortunate to find myself in Victoria on the 5th for a beautiful, clear day. Prior to the event, I contacted the President of the Victoria Centre, Laurie Roche, who was very helpful and supportive of my participation with their group. I spent about two and one half hours there, sharing the view with passersby. I took some images through my Canon Xti with my 300mm zoom lens. It was quite windy in Victoria that day. The other shot shows the group of Victoria Centre members and the public in front of the Museum where we were set up. The lady with the SCT is their President, Laurie Roche. A young lady is seen taking a shot through my 15x70 binos. I had to work at five that evening so I took my setup to work and had the pleasure of showing the transit to quite a few of my co-workers that afternoon. A very memorable and enjoyable day.
Charles BanvilleJoe Carr
Chris Gainor writes:
The weather forecasts for Transit Day in Victoria were generally discouraging, but in the last hour before the Transit began here shortly after 3 p.m., the clouds parted and then departed for the rest of the day. The weather, at least in downtown Victoria, turned out to be almost ideal. The RASC Victoria Centre held public outreach events for the Transit at the Royal BC Museum downtown, at Cattle Point in Oak Bay, and on Mount Tolmie. As well, Transit events in Victoria took place at the Bob Wright Centre at the University of Victoria and at the Centre of the Universe at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory on Little Saanich Mountain.
I set up my ETX at the Royal BC Museum, along with a number of other Victoria Centre members who brought their telescopes and the specially filtered Transit viewing glasses, and we were kept busy for hours with a steady stream of people eager to see the Transit. I am not an astrophotographer, but I did take an afocal image of the Transit through my telescope. I had the special pleasure of showing the Transit to my friend maritime historian Dr. Barry Gough, who has written about explorers of the Pacific Ocean, including Capt. James Cook, whose first voyage followed the 1769 Transit of Venus.
As took a last look at the sun before it set with Venus still crossing its disc, I was surprised at how close the end of the Transit appeared to be.
Bill Weir, Victoria Centre
I'm not ashamed to admit that I fled the dismal weather predictions for Southern Vancouver Island and drove solo 1400 km in 24 hrs until I found this roadside rest station and the Sun. While setting up on the 5th, two other observers seeking to get out from under the clouds of the Pacific Northwest also stumbled upon this rest area. One was from Portland Or. and the other from Bellingham Wa.
Over the course of the event we treated over 50 wayfaring strangers to this special moment in time. In a way it felt better than being set up at a planned event where people were expecting to see the transit. On this occasion many who looked through my scopes noted how they knew the transit was happening but because they were on the road never thought they would get to see it. On a whim I took out the note paper I'd brought along and asked people to sign it along with where they are from and any impressions. A few didn't but most did. These two pages of signatures have made a nice addition to my log book. While many of the names on it are from Oregon or California, people from as far away as Maddison Wi, and Calgary are also on the list.
Upon return to the Island I learned that the thick clouds had parted much like Moses parted the waters, (I suspect another goat was sacrficed by Sid Sidhu) for a perfect viewing by the Victoria Centre volunteers and masses of the public. Still I don't regret running away and my little bit of Guerrilla Astronomy. Also, while regularly answering that I had driven from Victoria to witness the event, I pointed out that I was also there representing the RASC and that "Spreading the Love" is part of our mandate.
Dan Collier, Vancouver Centre
images by Phil Morris
upper left: Phil Morris, Dan Collier and Miki C.
upper right: Dan Collier projecting an image of the 2012 June 5th ToV onto Murray Paulson's image of the 2004 June 8th ToV on the back cover of the 2012 Observer's Handbook!
bottom: detail of the above―Dan's initiative when faced with a shortage of white projection screens resulted in a memorable image!
Phil, Dan and Miki of Vancouver Centre would not allow "Wet Coast" weather to damp us out of the Transit of Venus of 2012. Vancouver was hopeless, but cleardarksky.com predicted a clearout in Victoria, and Victoria webcams confirmed it. Making our decision with no time to spare, we loaded Miki's vehicle and broke speed laws to reach the B.C. Ferries terminal in time for the 1 PM sailing. The ship left behind schedule and weather in the Gulf of Georgia was drizzly. But the closer we got to the terminal at Sidney, the better the sky looked. We lost no time getting to the site at Patricia Bay Airport that Phil had Googled for us. By the time the scopes were on the ground, the clouds had moved out for good, and the transit had started. Missing the first events was not a big disappointment. One glimpse of the backside of Venus against the Sun more than rewarded us. Many local residents stopped by for a view. Venus was still in view and the Sun well above the mountains of the Island central massif when the ferry schedule forced us to go back to the terminal. Before the Sun finally met the horizon, we gave passengers in the ferry lineup an impromptu view of the transit in Miki's scope. Eating White Spot burgers in the ship's cafeteria, we waved over another amateur with a telescope. He had had the same idea of taking the ferry to the nearest clear sky. So great minds think alike! Back in Vancouver it was raining.
As far as I know, this is the only time one transit of Venus has been projected onto an image of another transit ―that of 2004, depicted on the cover of the 2012 RASC Observer's Handbook. We were such a hurry to get to Victoria that no one thought of bringing a piece of white paper for a projection screen.