Venus Transit Full Report


June 8, 2004

by Jett Aguilar & Dante Cruz

Activity Images by Jett Aguilar


On June 8, 2004 (Tuesday), it started cloudy in Metro040608venus-nismed-a.jpg (34923 bytes) Manila with indications of impending rain. Weather predictions for this day in Manila mentioned thunderstorms, with tropical storm "Frank" expected to surely spoil the day for Filipino astronomers.  Some members were asking Jett if they will push through or cancel the NISMED session since it was raining still.  Jett then inform them that the UP-NISMED viewing will push thru "rain or shine" and it’s up to individual ALP members whether they would still like to attend. The rains then stopped at about 11 am, and lo and behold, the sun started to shine through the clouds! This surely lifted my spirits but doubts about a good Venus transit viewing still lingered since the Quezon City sky is still mostly cloudy and the sun is only shining thru some small breaks in the clouds. Eleven ALPers came to witness the Venus Transit: ALP vice president Edmund Rosales, ALP  NISMED Team leader Jett Aguilar, Rich, Edna Aduna, Melissa Bata, Angie Tan, John Lawrence Uy, Hans Cerdenia, Jon Alcartado, Dante Cruz and Mang Dante Noche. Jett brought along his 2 scopes, Nexstar 5i and Stellarvue AT1010 refractor , both equipped with Baader Solar Filters.  John Lawrence, on the other hand, brought his Advance Series C8 also equipped with Baader Solar Filter.

040608venus-nismed-b.jpg (60620 bytes)At around 12:30pm, Edmund guided the group to where they would set-up their telescopes at the UP-NISMED roof deck – which has a good unobstructed view of the zenith and western half of the sky. Edmund had already set up the observatory’s 8 inch refractor for solar projection viewing on a white board, and it is already tracking the sun. The Observatory’s large 203 mm refractor projected the Sun’s image on an illustration board. With a quick measurement (not double checked), the projected sun was around 8.5 inches diameter, while Venus was around 8 millimeters diameter. Small sunspots were seen. Often, there were clouds and each time a cloud unveiled Venus, the crowd cheered! Thanks to Edmund for being an alert, energetic, patient, practical and good humored instructor throughout! BTW, aside from the group, there were also some ALPers friends/ kin, plus many teachers and students. The people came as if by batches, quickly looked, then immediately left. Jett also distributed mylar eclipse eye-glasses so the viewers can look at the sun safely with their naked eyes. At about 1 pm, they have finished setting up their telescopes but to their extreme disappointment, the sun got covered again by dense clouds and they could even see rain clouds over the horizon. Edmund remained optimistic however and kept their spirits up with predictions of some cloud breaks coming up to let them see the transit in progress. Prior to the cloud cover, Rich was able to view the sun using the Stellarvue AT1010 clearly enough to see 1 or 2 small sunspots. First contact passed with the sun still covered so they  just decided to go to the observatory dome and see Edmund’s solar projection setup (Jett's daughter called it a "small theater"). I then went down to the roof deck again at about 1:15 pm and 040608venus-nismed-d.jpg (19840 bytes)tried to look thru the clouds with the telescopes but it was too dense. At about 1:20 pm I, They heard shouts of joy coming from the observatory dome and this apparently heralded the first sighting of the venus transit by the UP-NISMED group. They immediately went back to the dome but when they came in, clouds have covered up the sun again and nothing was visible on the projection screen. After about 15 minutes (1:35 pm), there was again a short break in the clouds and they  finally were able to see Venus after the second contact projected on the white cardboard screen. Again, everyone was very excited and jumping with joy on being able to view this rare celestial event – now they can truly say that they were able to witness the Venus Transit of 2004!  Jett took several pictures of the transit as projected on the screen and then went down again to try to view and image it using his telescopes. John was the first to view the transit on his 8 inch scope, then Jett was able to view it also on his Stellarvue with Rich.

040608venus-nismed-f.jpg (40386 bytes)Their view of the sun were rare and intermittent, lasting only a few seconds during occasional breaks in the clouds. Also, the short viewings were obstructed by the remaining hazy clouds, but this didn’t stop Jett from taking some images using his Olympus c5050 digital camera afocally thru the 3 telescopes. At about 3 pm it started to rain again and they temporarily transferred John’s Celestron and Jett's Stellarvue under the observatory roof. However, Jett just covered my Nexstar 5i with an umbrella since it was just a drizzle and he don’t like to disturb the scope’s alignment anymore. During this time, people were coming and going to look at our telescopes and also at Edmund’s solar projection at the observatory. UP students, and even a few of Jett's  former UP medical students who were there reviewing for the medical board exams passed by to take a peek at the telescopes and the observatory projection.

At about 3:30 pm the drizzle stopped but the sun remained hidden by the dense clouds. There were another 3 or 4 instances when the sun peeked briefly through the clouds and Jett was able to take some more images until about 4:30 pm. At about 5 pm,  they decided to call it a day and packed up their equipment. Despite the adverse and almost impossible viewing conditions for that afternoon, they left UP-NISMED fulfilled – having successfully viewed and imaged this very rare astronomical event. Now, they can all call ourselves "Venus Transitters" with pride!  They also met Lea Bisaya and Christina A, who both stayed long and expressed interest to join ALP someday.

Overall, it was a delightful, enjoyable experience which words or even pictures seem inadequate to convey the unique feeling. They were  glad to be an ALPer! :)


For more activity images of the transit observation from UP-NISMED , click here.

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



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2003 , 2004 Astronomical League of the Philippines Inc.