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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Venus and the 7th Inning Stretch

I've learned never to go anywhere without my binoculars or my spotting scope - including to  my son's baseball games. You never know - you may see something you'll never again see in your lifetime! Such was the case yesterday evening, when the clouds parted to allow a rare glimpse of the transit of Venus.

You probably heard about the transit on the news and how the last transit of Venus across the face of the sun occurred in 2004 (they occur in pairs), with the next one calculated to be in 2117. I had heard all about it, but I didn't dream I would actually get to witness it for myself - especially with this week's weather forecast.

The photo here shows Venus as a small, black, round circle in the lower right hand part of the larger bright circle, which is a projection of the sun. I took the photo at approximately 7:08 p.m. (was that the 5th inning?) in Calais. In the center of the sun, if you look carefully, you can see sunspots as well.

Viewing the transit was surprisingly easy, although my attempt to use my binoculars to project the image failed. Instead, I retrieved my spotting scope (usually used for birding) from my car, set it up to point directly at the sun, and projected the image onto a notebook. With a few turns of the focus knob and some fine tuning of the zoom lens, we managed a descent image of the celestial duo.

Very quickly word spread among the families present (who were probably watching the game more closely than I was) and the baseball players as well. Kids who were not on deck to bat, or not out in the field, took turns coming over to marvel over the image of Venus. Perhaps even rarer than this astronomical event, was to see a baseball game interrupted by a natural phenomena!


  1. I'd love to have seen THIS event! Not the Transit, which I did see (http://stilllearningtosee.com/2012/06/05/transit-of-venus/), but the "transit of the baseball players and fans." You are a virtual Pied Piper my friend! How lucky we all are, both to see Venus like this and to have this crazy bird watcher in our midst.

  2. Great photos on your website John - thanks for sharing!