The transit of Venus begins (in Hawaii)

June 5, 2012 • 2:55 pm

Since the next occurrence of this phenomenon will be in 2117, unless there are fantastic medical advances and you’re very young, this will be your only chance to see this.

In about 10 minutes from now (ca 6 p.m. EST in the US), the transit of Venus across the sun will begin as seen from the observatory at Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The webcast, though, has already started (there are commentaries and interviews), so go here—and have fun.

Here’s a screenshot as the planet moves into the Sun at upper right:

A closer view from the Mount Wilson Observatory in California:

34 thoughts on “The transit of Venus begins (in Hawaii)

  1. Very cool. Thanks for posting this. First contact was shortly after 3:10 pm PDT and I was watching the Hawaii feed at the time. It is fun to listen to the excitement in the voices of the scientists.

    1. And me from our neighbors’ front yard. Treated them to some atrophotography using a pair of (high power) binocs & tripod, a piece of paper, and my Nikon. Will share what came out.

      With the eyeball it was fantastic… could see lots of sunspots, and what seemed to be a tiny ring of blue around Venus (ever so barely). I doubt that will come out on camera, though. I had the image about as big as a canteloupe.

  2. Wow, maybe its the combination of the familiar sun and the unfamiliar (at least to me) Venus, but I find those pictures incredibly cool and amazing. It somehow makes Venus seem so close and accessible. LOL

  3. As I sit here watching the transit from a butte overlooking the Valley of the Sun, I am struck by the perspective of what I see.

    That small, perfect circle on the face of the Sun? It’s as big as the entire Earth. Remember Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, and know that everywhere you will ever travel lays on a sphere as tiny as that dot.

    And the Sun so massively dwarfs it! Those even tinier blotches of sunspots are themselves each as large as Venus, as large as the Earth.

    There’s also the scale of the motion. You can watch the progress of this dance of the Titans, and begin to glimpse the incomprehensible speed of their stately motion. And is it any coincidence that Venus’s path is perpendicular to Polaris?

    Time to press the shutter button again….


    1. And not only does the Sun dwarf Venus in these images, but people must remember that Venus is so much closer to Earth right now than the Sun is (something like 67 million miles closer). Placed side-by-side with the Sun, Venus (and the Earth) are just specks in comparison! Pretty amazing…

  4. Watching them at Waikiki. So glad the University set up a station with telescopes and are passing out filters.

    Looks pretty sweet. Coolest tiny black dot I’ve seen, hands down.

    1. Years ago when I observed a transit of Mercury I simply used a (huge) solar telescope to project an 8-inch image of the sun; we could easily fit 20 people around the instrument to stare at the tiny speck. Personally I prefer such projected images to staring at the sun through a filter. Looking through a small solar telescope with an H-alpha filter was even more spectacular since you could see all sorts of other details on the sun. The red images from Mauna Kea are H-alpha, but the computer screen just doesn’t match what you see with your eyes at the telescope.

      I was expecting the folks at Mauna Kea to only be halfway up the mountain; they’re actually at the Science Complex at the peak. At ~4.2km altitude just walking around is quite a challenge.

  5. Just took some photos with a cheap auto focus (bleh), with the help of a pair of binoculars, an old microphone stand, some wire and a bit of cardboard.

    Doesn’t turn out too bad really. Got to see Venus and some sunspots LIVE!

    What an age we live in.

        1. Great stuff. Tried to comment, but teh interwebs tried to pwn me. Will figure out the appropriate navigation and get back to you. Thanks!

    1. Had a neat afternoon with the neighbors and a few people walking down the sidewalk who had no idea what we were up to.

      The results, especially after playing with color controls, were much better than I expected – given that this is a really casual attempt.

      I wish I didn’t have graph paper underneath, as it comes out in some of the heavily adjusted photos. None of that was visible with the naked eye, even when looking at it really closely.

      Anyway, if you wade through the kitteh pics, every other picture you can see (from clicking on my gravitar) is from this afternoon, incl. pics of the bird eggs from an abandoned nest (sigh).

      1. Ooop. I guess I should put together the list of the flavors of Rube Goldberg I used to get those images:

        Binocs: Celestron “Skymaster” (15×70), bargain basement, snagged online super special.

        Camera: Nikon D3100 w/ standard DX AF-S 18-55mm “Auto” VR (vibration reduction whatnot) w/ Zuikos UV filter (pieced together from over a month of bargain basement shopping for pieces parts)

        No-name piece of cheese featherweight tripod, bundled in one of the numerous deals involved in putting together the above Nikon system, lovingly peppered with dioxins and delivered from the Democratic People’s Republic of China.

        CopyPlus&reg standard weight (20/50lb) white US letter-size copy paper, from the makers of Hammermill, a subsidiary of International Paper (for more information call 1-800-242-2148) from the birthplace of B.B. King, Booker T. Jones, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Al Jackson Jr., Hank Crawford, Donald “Duck” Dunn (RIP May 13), Johnny Ace, George Hamilton, and The Most Reverend Archbishop LeRoy Bailey Jr., Memphis Tennessee.

        Graph paper delivered by Viking Office Products, mail-ordered in 2001, and thoughtlessly used as backing for the abovementioned copy paper, and finally:

        Clothespins likely picked up in a Colorado Springs Safeway or King Soopers, diligently fetched from near the neighbors hamper and expertly utilized in service of the Great Impromptu Venus Transit Project of 2012.

        Did I forget anything?

  6. we finally got rain. Today. Now. Probably be overcast all day wiht heavier rain this afternoon/evening – which is great! Don’t get me wrong. IN Perth, we’re in dire need of winter.
    But oh – why today 🙁
    thank goodness for NASA, but sadly I can’t repeat that very first experiment (Horrocks?) with my binoculars & card 🙁

    1. One of the other photographers at the butte yesterday got a similar shot. I later saw a hint of a jet fly just beneath the Sun, but it never crossed the Sun’s face….


  7. I don’t know if it is visible from where I am (south of England) but the sky is overcast anyway 🙁

    Thanks to the internet and various scientists to let me vicariously take part of it. And thanks Jerry for pointing it out to us.

  8. Mr C~ Another milestone event for
    our species. Thank you for the heads
    up that allowed us to be an online
    witness to science history.

  9. Got to see it through a hi-magnification solar telescope that filtered out most of the non-red light so you could see the chromosphere (usually invisible) from up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


  10. My son set up his telescope on the front lawn just before 8am. I was able to view the early transit of venus before having to leave for work. And I managed to sneak back for lunch at about 3pm to see it pass across the other edge of the sun.

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