There’s a little black spot on the sun today…
On June 5th, Venus passed directly between the Sun and the Earth. This happens in pairs eight years apart, twice every 120 years or so. The last transit, in 2004, wasn’t visible from Colorado, so I missed it. I did see a transit of Mercury some years ago. That’s not all that rare.
I took this rather cool event as an opportunity take some pictures through my 12.5″ scope. Yes, I have an observatory in my back yard. It doesn’t see too much use these days. I got into astronomy while working at Symantec, and, well, being rather bored. I’m not nearly so bored at Apple (usually!), so astronomy has taken a back seat.
Anyhow, I practiced taking photos a few days ahead of time so that I’d know what I was doing. The best results came from just holding my camera up to the eyepiece. (I put it into manual mode to get the focus right and adjust the shutter speed based on how cloudy the views were.)
Here’s a shot as Venus moves onto the face of the Sun. There were plenty of clouds at that point, but still enough light coming through to get nice shots.
This next one shows Venus fully on the face of the Sun. The clouds were a bit thicker, but some sunspots are easily visible too.
I took this shot directly with my camera, zoomed in at 20x, through a Thousand Oaks filter. The filter lets though more yellow light than the one on my large scope. Kinda pleasing. My large scope has a homemade filter that uses Baader Solar Film.
This is one of the best shots I managed. You can see more sunspots, and the large ones have a clear penumbrae around them. The view through the eyepiece was spectacular at times. Lots of small sunspots were visible, as well as a good bit of granulation across the face.
This last picture as things were getting more cloudy towards the western horizon.
I’d been hoping to get some shots as the Sun set behind the Rockies. Unfortunately, there’s a tree very close to the observatory that obscured the view.
Also on that night, Teresa was entertaining about 40 kids and parents from the robotics team she mentors. A large percentage of them came out to take a peak through the scope. It was very busy at times, and certainly more folks looked through the beast than any other time since I’ve owned it.