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Venus Transit!

June 8, 2004 - Venus Transit!!

Comments: I was up very early, and enjoying my morning mug while watching live webcam images with Joe and waiting on dawn. The clock ticks... OK. I'm ready. Out on the edge of the east field at a little after 6:00. Both the 4.5 Celestron and the little Orion 4.5 had honours, mainly because the only two solar filters I possess fit them. On hand is the little TV/VCR combo, the video imaging eyepiece, a 35mm camera loaded with good film that can be digitalized, and my camcorder. Taking no chances, I also brought an eclipse viewer with me. Well, by then I had 37 mosquito bites and enough coffee to cruise at 20,000 to Thailand. Decided I'd best go find some repellant, visit the used coffee department, and wake my youngest son to take part in history! (and to help assist in tracking the imaging scope. ;) The sky was gettin' mighty red and the time of the Ohio viewable transit was drawing close. Already, I knew my compadres around the world were on it. Just look at this picture taken from the UK by my friend, Alistair Thompson!

Totally ready for this, I stood at the edge of the field while Jon ate pastry, I drooled, and we both watched the deep, red ball of the Sun rise. I've got to try. Guess what? It won't show through the filter. No problem. I try not to look directly at the Sun, and I notice it ain't gettin' any lighter, either. Yep. A big cloud bank sailed right over it. Well, here a hole, and there a hole... And I'm getting the drift I better move the scopes north if I'm going to stay out of the trees. 6:45... Clouds break. Sun shines. Sun don't cut through the filter. RATS! I was afraid of this. Tick tock goes the clock and there isn't much time left. Somewhere a bit east of the grease, another friend, Sol Robbins, was enjoying sweet success!

Come on, baby! Rise... 6:55 and I'm seeing a little shadow on the ground.


Enlisting Jon to hold up my black towel, I use the "shadow aim" techinque, and bingo. There it is in the scope equipped with Baader film. Oh, my! You cannot believe how large and gorgeous it is! We move to the other scope I was going to image with, and the glass filter. Nada. It's not going to show through. You know what? Tick tock... I'm going back to the one where it shows. Forget trying to video record the event... There's no time to mess with this stuff, and I just wanna' see it! Jon has kept admirable "track" on it, and after I quit slobbering, I have the presence of mind to put the camcorder to the eyepiece...

Hot dog! (wanna' treat? or just a few tricks? ;) I can't believe how quickly it has moved in just the few minutes that I tried to get it with the Orion set up. No time. No time to mess with any ot that stuff! It's getting mighty close to the edge...

A glance at my watch says those "guys" were right. It would be 7:05 before it became visible, and I didn't defy Murphy's Law by much! It's getting ever closer... And my visual sense says there is the legendary "black drop effect".

Important? Heck, yes it's important! Do you realize that this has never been photographed? The only historic reference we have to this is James Cook's own sketches of the last transit, and it's truly a privelege to capture it with primative astrophotography equipment. (yeah, and there will be a millon of them out there today... but, baby? these were for you...)

Here and there, neighbors had wandered up. Do I mind? Honestly, no. It is truly a once in a lifetime event and I am honoured they would join me. As each has a quick look, I grab a bit of video in between. The event has almost passed and again, I defied Murphy's Law to the end.

At the last remaining minute, I laid down the video camera. This is for me. For one split second, just before Venus entirely left the limb, there was a brief crescent of light, like a halo around it, enabling the perception of it's orb. Truly one of the most remarkable things I have ever witnessed...

We put the things away. The time has come and gone. Here in Ohio, we have enjoyed a monumental astronomy event and I feel priveleged to have been there. No human alive has seen what I just have, and I am humble. How grand it is to live in an age where we can be part of such history! Jon goes back to bed while I send a fast photo to friends and leave for work. I know many, many of them enjoyed the same success, like Greg, Curt and Trish at Galion Resevior, "Bubba" at his location, as well as Stuart, from Hocking Hills Observatory with a group from Perkins... and I am elated for all! Now, I'm off to work and will return as the "Vampyre" in the days to come. What can I say besides...

I would have given anything if you were here, too.

"And you run and you run to catch up with the Sun.... But it's sinking. Racing around to come up behind you again. The Sun is the same in a relative way... But you're older. Shorter of breath... And one day closer to death."