Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Why I'm Not Watching the Transit of Venus

Today is the transit of Venus across the Sun. A couple of weeks back, we had an annular eclipse of the moon. I'm not sure what people get out of seeing one circle move across another until they are mutually centered, or a very small circle moving across a big circle. I do get total solar eclipses, because you can see the magnetic flares in a way you usually can't. Although I've spent a fair amount of time looking at the moon rising, or the moon eclipsing a star. It could be that these "big" events are the only way most people actually can observe astronomical movements. Anyhow, I didn't bother to set up my telescope for the eclipse. I was looking for something that might disrupt the ordinary. A relative in California hit the jackpot:

It's a shadow of a tree on a wall. The spaces between the leaves formed pinhole cameras to make the multiple images of the partially eclipsed sun. Very cool.

So I'm not setting up my telescope for the transit of Venus either. The big telescopes will be able to pick up information about Venus's atmosphere, and probably some things about the Sun, too. But all I would see is a little dark circle passing over a big bright one.

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