2012 June 04. The Sky and Telescope Transit of Venus group had converged at Waikoloa Beach. The reception the night before had been a lot more enjoyable than I’d have imagined: good food, good conversation, and dark, lovely skies. This was the day to get the details sorted out — as much as possible, anyway.
As I mentioned at the time, the weather forecast wasn’t encouraging. Still, we had better odds than at most other locations. Most of us seemed willing to just deal with whatever happened. It’s not surprising, really. Any astronomer who was interested enough to make the trip had likely been bitten by weather before. Besides, what can you do?
The obvious answer? Unpack your gear and check out your equipment. An impromptu solar observing party broke out on a hotel lawn. Oddly enough, nobody else wandered by to see what we were doing. Perhaps it was the laid-back Hawaiian politeness I’d already noticed. Or, perhaps so many eager astronomy enthusiasts seemed like the wrong party to crash. In any case, it was nice to be in an observing group without having to put on my astronomy educator hat.
That was another great pleasure of my Transit trip. Yes, I really enjoy astronomy outreach and being an educator. Even so, every now and then, it’s a refreshing change to just be an observer. Oh, and being in Hawaii wasn’t too hard to take, either! 🙂
That night, after a great dinner with some fellow Transit Travelers, I had another splendid treat. Walking back to the hotel, I saw Alpha and Beta Centauri and the Southern Cross for the first time. The simulation to the right just doesn’t do justice to that magnificent sight. It was one of many on this trip, but a wonderful experience nonetheless.