Venus Transit Full Report


June 8, 2004

by Francisco Lao, Jr.


On June 8, ALPha Newsletter Editor in Chief Francisco "Jun" Lao, Jr, together with his Filipino office friends Ver Gabriel,  Trace Trajano, and astrophotographer Eric Africa from the Cincinnati area headed off to Voice of America (VOA) park in Westchester, Ohio, to view the transit of Venus which would already be underway at sunrise, and which would end about an hour later.

They set up at the parking lot of the park, away from the StarGaze site where most of the Cincinnati Astronomical Society members and guests were located, so that they would have enough space to set up their equipment.  When they arrived close to 6 a.m., Eric already had his set-up there, together with other members on a side parking lot.  Since the area was a little small, they decided to move to another parking lot to allow enough space between their equipments.  

They also tried to figure out where the Sun would rise, using both the lit portion of the quarter Moon to estimate where the Sun would be, and determining where the brightest glow was coming from in the eastern horizon.  The sun was due to come up at 6:11 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time).  They waited dutifully for the Sun to come up, and they removed their solar filters, since the Earth's thick atmosphere near the horizon would act as a natural filter while the Sun was rising.  

Ver was the first to spot Venus on the solar 040608cincisetup.jpg (72090 bytes)disk at 6:17 a.m.  They then took images of the transit at this point without filtration until 6:39 when the Sun was high enough that it was hard to look at with the unaided eye. They then proceeded at a more leisurely pace, taking images of the Sun and transit at 6:30, 6:45, and 7:00 a.m. They also saw planes pass in front of the Sun. Ver attempted to get an image of the first one, but was too late. When Jun  was observing the Sun visually with Ver's scope, another plane passed by. It's a pity, they could have taken an image of a plane shadow and Venus! The plane that passed by while Jun was viewing the Sun had its jet trail making the solar image waver.  As Jun put on the solar filter on his ETX-125, the images were still quite dim – it was hard to see what was going on, and he hoped that his focus was ok. The afternoon before, he coupled his Nikon SLR camera to a 2x teleplus and then to the scope as it would be used for the transit, and then focused it on a transmission tower without the solar filter.

After getting his   pictures of the event afterwards, the preparation paid off – since the image of the solar disk was dim with the solar filter, it helped that he had fixed the focus of the system ahead of time, rather than scrambling on the day of the event.  At around 7am, they became even more attentive to the Sun, as it was now getting close to Contact III.  

They started getting more pictures as contact III approached, intent on seeing if they would see the black drop effect or any indication of a halo or aureole around Venus.  Nada. Zip. Third contact occurred at 7:06 a.m.

Jun continued to take images as  Venus crept toward contact IV.  As they  finished up on contact IV at 7:26 a.m., Jun took some images of the Moon to finish up his second roll of film, and then they left the site.

Jun  had to rush back to the office as he needed to be there by 8:30 a.m. on his way to interview consumers as he works for Proctor and Gamble.

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



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2003 , 2004 Astronomical League of the Philippines Inc.