Venus Transit Full Report


June 8, 2004

by James Kevin Ty , Allen Yu & Jhun Embuido

Transit Images by James Kevin Ty, Christopher Go & Allen Yu

Activity Images by Tommy Tan


In the early morning of June 8, ALP Cebu team which consist of ALP president James Kevin Ty, Allen Yu and Jhun Embuido depart from Manila at around 5am via Philippine Airline and were looking forward for sunny and fair weather in Cebu as it was still raining in Manila , which was brought along by a KJ (Kill Joy not Kevin James of course!) storm name Frank, even before they depart from Manila. The trio decided not to gamble, rather than spend the next 8 years possibly rumbling, scorned-face  (if the skies failed to open up) still awaiting for next transit, the best option has to be taken.  For some, this could be an over reaction, but what are astronomers are for, rather than let this one slip away, the world better know that it is people (like ALPers) who makes it happen, not await destiny to bring them to nowhere. 

During their journey, they use that time to take a nap , read newspaper and make themselves comfortable.  A few minutes before touch-down, they turned their  head to the window to see
if the sky is clear. There's a thick and low-altitude clouds covering almost everywhere with a gauzy smog near the surface. Jhun then turn his head toward Allen and he could tell that Allen is  disappointed :( Nevertheless, Jhun was thinking at that time that it will be a promising day. The sun
will appear and smile to give hope to these 3 desperate but eager ALPers.

At 6:30am, they had checked-out of  the airport and were met by Christopher Go .James and Allen were happy seeing there "long-lost" friend from Cebu. Afterwards, they proceeded to Christopher's residence and had breakfast and  some rest.

While Allen and Jhun were relaxing in Chris' living room, the energetic duo of James and Chris  were busy testing Chris' GM-8 in which James will be installing his TV-101 refractor to capture the transit.  As they were waiting for T-hour (Transit Hour) , Chris and James were busy checking on live updates of the latest weather condition almost in an hourly basis.  After figuring their plans, they  proceed to Christopher's factory to tap the corresponding holes to attached the TV-101 refractor to the Losmandy dovetail plate.  Then they had an express lunch before proceeding  to University of San Carlos where James, Jhun and Allen will be setting up their equipment to observe and image the event.  Chris , on the other hand, will be imaging with his AP130 with Solarmax 60 on AP900 GTO at his balcony as he had already polar aligned his mount there a few days earlier..While, on their way to USC,  James would often checks his barometric pressure on his watch ( 1002...998..) while the rest, is looking up to find a chance of break in the clouds. Its more than an hour left before the historic experience begins.

Just before they enter the university gate, with least 040608venus-cebu-a.jpg (56304 bytes)expectation, the sun came out! The ALP Cebu team were delighted! One could here Yes!, Yeheey! & Whooh fill the air :) They wasted no time to set up their scopes and calibrate them carefully. Members of the Cebu Stargazers Club arrived in droves as well as a crew from GMA 7 to  bore witness to this event.The time was ticking and it was already 12:20pm!  Jhun was nervous while he was assembling his Celestron  Nexstar 114 scope named Jenny which was  equipped with Baader Astro Solar Filter;  Allen set up his newly bought toy, an Orion 80ED refractor and EQ-3 mount for his white light observation while his 60mm Kenko refractor was equipped with Solar Max 40 H-Alpha Filter.  James, on the other hand, set up his ever trusty TV-101 refractor with INTES Herschel Wedge for white light imaging with his Canon EOS 300D digital SLR which was mounted on the very sturdy Losmandy GM-8 equatorial mount.  He also piggy backed his Sony TRV-110 video camera equipped with 2x converter and Thousand Oaks solar filter to video the event as well.

After a while, a familiar looking person with sunglasses caught the attention of the group and it was no less than our very own "Angkong" Tommy Tan had arrived and joining them to observe the event as well.  James lend his GPS receiver for Tommy to be their official time keeper. He was shouting  the remaining time before the first contact( 4 mins, 3 min..).Tensed and tired, Allen
face is almost covered with sweat.A minute left, the three of them delved into our telescope. They're waiting and searching for any signs of first contact!  There was a fired-up prominence on the northeast part of the solar disk, a moment to steal away Allen's  attention from the ingress area of venus.  Suddenly, a very very shallow notch appeared on the predicted side, Allen quickly shouted " I see it, its in eleven o'clock". Tommy clocked i040608venustrans-c-closeup-data-small.jpg (23966 bytes)t at 1:11:30pm .  James had just triggered one of his digital exposure and was trying to view the image under bright light which tends to make it hard to view through the LCD screen so he continue to take more exposure.  Jhun, on the other hand, still can't  see the ingress  with his scope so he quickly approach Allen's scope to see it.  Without doubt, he finally saw Venus creeping slowly inside the limb of the Sun! He then went back to his scope to continue observing  it. "Magnifico!" he exclaimed.  "There you are!" he uttered. He could clearly see small curve cut on the solar limb. Venus did not exhibit any "Ring of Light" before 1st contact, AND during its ingress when the diskof Venus is already halfway inside the Sun's disk.  Likewise, it is also not visible when Venus is already "inside" the Sun, both in HA and white light.

At around 1:17pm, sky seems to be going bad once again. Traces of  small raindrops started dropping  everywhere! Since Jhun scope is the lightest of the three, he was able to carry his  lightweight little "Jenny" to the shelter easily.. James , on the other hand, always prepared like a boy scout, managed to cover his telescope and mount with the trash bag he always carried along his observation for these unexpected purpose :)  Unfortuntely for Allen, he was only able to carry his new Orion 80ED refractor in one hand and his other hand , his 60mm guidescope in which his SolarMax 40 was installed :(   His equatorial mount was left soaked under the hard rain that followed. Allen almost gave up and was seen packing his stuff to his luggage after wiping off the water off his scopes. But as the saying goes, Astronomy takes a lot patience and after some encouragement from the group, Allen become a bit optimistic again and so they waited  until the rain stops. 2nd Contact was not observed due to cloud interference.  Nevertheless, Tan Wei Leong  from Singapore texted James to report that NO blackdrop nor any of the expected phenomenon were seen.  To this, we hypothesized that instruments of 1882 were haunted by imperfect optics that gave these illusory results.  At worse, even low end optical instruments of this day failed to reveal any of these what we now call illusions.

040608venus-cebu-e.jpg (49538 bytes)Its around  3'o'clock, when the thick clouds have just dissipated and the Sun came out smiling again to them. The field was soaked under inches of water, it is now very muddy.  The usual big crowd now reduced to 1/5 of the previous size.  When the sky opened up again like that it is hard to hold back emotions not to continue imaging.  And so they dived into the mud and continue to do what remains of the day as Allen and Jhun  start setting up again their scope. James, on the other hand just removed the soaked trash bag away and start to shoot away at the Sun. Allen also continued his imaging session under white light with his Baader Photographic 3.8 Solar Filter.and alternatively also with his H-Alpha filter. Meanwhile over at Christopher residence, he informed the ALP team that he was also having a great time imaging the Sun with Astrophysics AP130 refractor equipped with Solar Max 60 and mounted atop his heavy duty AP900 GTO mount.  Chris used his Philips Toucam Pro to image the transit. He was also joined by some members of Cebu Stargazers Society.

Meanwhile, a dozen of astronomy buffs from mentors040608venus-cebu-f.jpg (61491 bytes) to students of the university flocked the area to take a peek of the venus transit. Children with their parents were also gathered around to see this rare astronomical event. The team then let the visitors take a peek of Venus.  At around 5pm, clouds started to rolled in and cover the entire sky. ALPers finally decided to pack-up to have an ample time to clean and fix their belongings as they have to catch the plane back to Manila at 7:30pm.   It was one of the most tiring day as not only because of the transit event but   also the 1 day round trip the team had experienced.  Nevertheless, it was worth the trip to Cebu.

They arrived in Manila around 9pm. All is well that ends well, a night sky void of clouds and absolute transparency greeted us!  Sometimes, its hard how to put it, but "Frank" surely knows how to do it, and he did it best, if not better than the 3 tired souls that went to Cebu just to get the 1st and 2nd contact!  As Allen say, "Miserere, Miserere, pero brindo al Transito di Venere!  Miserable, miserable me, but I toast to the Transit of Venus!"  One Transit successfully tucked to ALP's belt. For the 3 of them, its worth the extra money spent to observe this rare event.

040608venus-cebu-z.jpg (96251 bytes)

For more activity images of the transit observation in Cebu, click here.

For Venus transit images taken by ALP members, click here.



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2003 , 2004 Astronomical League of the Philippines Inc.