Thursday, June 07, 2012

Pictures of the Venus Transit and Festivities

Sun setting behind Kitt Peak with transiting Venus
Venus transiting the sun as it sets behind the telescopes of Kitt Peak.  Image (c) 2012 David A Harvey, used with permission.
Tuesday afternoon, the planet Venus passed in front of the Sun as seen by the Earth.  (If you've been reading this blog, you already know that).  The next transit of Venus will happen on December 10-11, 2117 (my birthday, though I don't expect to see it).

Here at Texas A&M University - Commerce, we had an open house at our observatory.  Roughly 150 people came, which is absolutely amazing.  We had to fight some clouds - the transit started behind a thunderstorm, and the last hour that the sun was still up it was hidden behind clouds, and there were enough clouds we closed down early and didn't stay up to view the night sky.  But those who braved the heat and waited out the clouds were treated to quite the spectacle.

In case you missed the transit because of clouds, work, school, sleep or indifference, here are some pictures, both from us and from others.  Picture sources are indicated in the caption.  You may feel free to use any images labeled as being from NASA (here are their terms of use), and you may use any images labeled as from me as long as you attribute them and don't use them for commercial purposes (my terms of use).



All of my images were taken with an iPhone held up to an eyepiece.  Most of these photos were lousy, but a few came out okay! 

Sun behind clouds at the start of the 2012 Venus transit
The beginning of the transit was hidden behind a cumulonimbus (thunderstorm cloud).  Thankfully we didn't get rain.  Image credit: Professor Astronomy

Picture of Venus, the sun, and clouds through a telescope
The early stages of the transit, as seen through a telescope with an appropriate solar filter.  The mottled appearance of the sun is due to the top portions of the cumulonimbus we were looking through.  Venus is the big dot; the smaller dots are sunspots.  Image credit: Professor Astronomy

The crowd gathered to observe the Venus transit safely at Commerce Observatory
Some of the early crowd at Commerce Observatory.  The sun was still playing hide-and-seek with the thunderstorms at this time. Image credit: Professor Astronomy

The 2012 transit of Venus seen through binoculars
Finally, a good view!  I took this picture through a pair of binoculars with solar filters.  Image credit: Professor Astronomy

The 2012 transit of Venus seen in hydrogen alpha light
An image of the sun and Venus through a Coronado Solar Telescope.  These telescopes only let light corresponding to hydrogen atoms come through, which allow the viewer to see activity on the sun.  Around the edge of the sun you can see some prominences.  The brighter regions are called faculae and are related to sunspots.  Image credit: Dr. Kent Montgomery / Texas A&M University - Commerce


Clouds roll in again, ending our view of the 2012 Venus transit
About 1 hour before sunset (and only two hours into the 7-hour transit), another thunderstorm formed and blocked Venus and the sun for the remainder of the day.  This transit of clouds across the transit of Venus, while beautiful, has little scientific value.  Image credit: Professor Astronomy

Ultraviolet picture of Venus crossing the sun
This image was taken by the sun-observing satellite Hinode, a joint NASA/Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency mission.  The picture is in a wavelength of ultraviolet light that highlights solar activity.  The yellow ring around Venus is real and caused by Venus's atmosphere bending light.  Image Credit: NASA/JAXA

Satellite picture of Venus crossing the sun, revealing its atmosphere
This image was also taken by the sun-observing satellite Hinode, a joint NASA/Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency mission.  The picture is in visible light.  The ring around Venus is real and caused by Venus's atmosphere bending light.  Image Credit: NASA/JAXA




A movie of the Venus transit as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, an orbiting satellite. This movie is taken in ultraviolet light, which shows the Sun's activity. As the movie plays, watch for mini solar flares and other changes in the sun.

Venus has moved on; it is now visible in the early morning sky just before sunrise (it's moving fast!).  I guess it is time to leave this fun and rare event behind, too, and move on to more astronomy!

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Pretty cool stuff! Greetings from Aachen...

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  2. Anonymous6:56 PM

    Greetings from Guatemala. The best of this show in the sky was that we were following it together in almost every part of the world as a big family in our home, Earth. I saw it from my University's observatory. It was great. Congratulations. Claudio Ordóñez Urrutia

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