Transit of Venus 2012 - Chris Lee
Bristolian astronomers pride themselves in observational tenacity that takes account of an uncooperative climate. We all know of meteor showers being watched elsewhere across the country but which are always elusive in our skies. The Venus Transit proved to be just such a tricky observation. A short summary of what Bristol might see, penned largely by John Meacham, caught the attention of BBC Radio Bristol and they invited BAS in to their Whiteladies Road station to describe the event the day before transit (5th June). To get a really decent view two of our members (Jane Clark and Mark Stuart) decided to head to better climes (Australia and Malta). Those left behind in Bristol would see the last 30 mins of a 6 hour show at the crack of dawn, low down in the north east.
Meanwhile Terry Flower reported an excellent viewing site with clear North East horizons – his Model Aircraft landing strip at Marshfield.
The start of the 2012 transit itself – not visible across Europe – was webcast live from West Coast USA. BAS members such as Fiona Lambert logged on to the internet at 11 pm and used tweets to enter into the spirit of the “virtual” observation. Others prepared for an early rise at 3.30 am and the hunt for clear horizons. Bristol was drizzly so early birds Chris Lee, Terry Flower and Allan McCarthy set out for Marshfield and set up scopes as they waited for a break in the grey dawn sky. At one point they resorted to watching the webcasts of the event but the Sun began to gain in height and breached the cloud barrier at 5.19 am affording over 20 mins of the remaining transit. Meanwhile the Bristol weather also improved and allowed Mike Cowles to catch a glimpse just before 3rd contact.
All in all a tricky observation but perhaps the more satisfying. Anyone expecting to see the next one in 2117?
Figure 1: Venus Transit Captured through the Eyepiece at Marshfield
Transit of Venus 2012 - Mike Cowles
Having originally planned to go to Marshfield to observe the transit, the weather reports on Tuesday put me off so I decided to view it from home as I could just go back to sleep if it was totally cloudy.
I got up at 4.30 and there were patches of blue sky in the north east and the moon was visible in the south. I moved my 3.5 in refractor into the garden and which I had set up the previous evening. At around 05.25 (BST) the Sun rose above the fence and I got the first view of Venus on the Sun’s disc. There were also four prominent sunspot groups on the disc.
I took a few pictures by pointing a digital camera down the eyepiece and a couple turned out reasonably well (see below). Other than a few stray clouds the Sun remained clear until the transit was over so I managed to see the final 30 minutes of the rare celestial event.