One Mind-Boggling Transit Day

Well, it’s come and gone for another 105.5 years. And we couldn’t have asked for the day to have worked out any better. Well, we could have, but we’d have had to be daft!

I just saw First and Second Contacts! Can you tell I’m having a good time? 🙂

Even with a stiff breeze at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, Venus and the limb of the Sun were crisp and vivid. Those of us with white-light filters got a bit of an advance alert on First Contact – the hydrogen-α observers saw Venus enter the chromosphere about half a minute before we did. An intensely scientific poll of a well selected group (i.e. everyone in earshot who gave a damn) revealed that most of us saw some kind of mild black drop effect.

The Transit as viewed from Mauna Kea’s summit

I’m going to state that I saw the famous aureole around the space-side of Venus. It was tiny and hard to see, and it wavered in and out of view, but I tried every trick I’ve come up with to undo the effects of creative eyesight. When I heard another observer I hadn’t even met describe something very similar to my observations, I felt reasonably sure I was seeing something real.

After a trip to the Mauna Kea summit, clouds wrapping around from the low-pressure system that passed just north of the Big Island started to close in on the Visitor Information Station, so our group organizers started checking the alternate sites on our contingency list. The most likely site for observing egress  — the beach behind our hotel. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, so we toughed it out and went back to a tropical climate zone.

Observing the Transit on a summery Hawaiian day

We endured great hardships for 3rd and 4th Contact

And there you have it, folks. The 2012 Transit of Venus as viewed over 11 (or so) climate zones. In-freaking-credible! :-))

Venus has just cleared the Sun’s limb

Check out a few more photos, with more to come.


About Tim Cole

Astronomy enthusiast and educator, all-around fancier of dark skies and starry nights
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