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Seattle Fling 2011

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Transit of Venus at the End of the Road

Camera obscura preparation

The transit of venus, the passage of Venus between earth and the sun is an astronomical event that many will never see because it is so infrequent. We wanted to see it again, as we had seen it at dawn in 20o4, using the same technique, a homemade camera obscura.

We went up to our attic which has a western window, perfectly situated for watching this phenomena that began at 6:04 pm on Tuesday, June 5.  The only drawback is that the attic also has a bank of southern windows so the room  was not as dark as we would have liked it. Still, we gave it a try. The photo above shows the paper that we taped over the window with just a pinhole to let the image of the setting sun come through.

Camera obscura view

Remember this is the attic. Not very neat.  We taped another piece of paper to an old mirror (it didn’t need to be a mirror, it was just what we had) and placed it where the image of the sun would hit it. You can see the lighter circle on the paper – that is the sun. If we looked very very closely we could see a tiny dot, Venus, at the bottom of the sun’s image.

Transit of Venus

By manipulating the camera my husband was able to get this clearer image of the transit of Venus. This image even inspired him to write a haiku –  the goddess/glides silently by/ the inferno.

The skies clouded over after only about half an hour and we were not  able to watch Venus travel very far.  We had better luck in  2004 for the early morning transit when we set up the camera obscura in my ‘office’ which only has one eastern window. The image was so clear that we were not only able to watch more of the transit, we were able to see the trees – upside down – that were just below the sun. The trees were not as clear as a regular photo, they were quite romantically pale, like an old faded photograph. The whole event was very beautiful and absolutely fascinating.

There will not be another transit of Venus until 2117. For more information about the transit of Venus click here.

This posting obviously has nothing to do directly with plants or gardening, but without the greater natural systems we wouldn’t have plants and gardens.

 


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