Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Transit of Venus Photos from Tahoe

 Venus Transit Photo
Astronomers around the world looked to the sky tonight to observe Venus as it passed across the face of the Sun for the last time this century making the viewing the The Transit of Venus a once in a lifetime event, so naturally I was compelled to photograph the celestial occasion.

Since it’s not safe to look directly at the sun, the Venus Transit must be viewed with a safe solar viewing device or using the projection method. I opted to use the same type of budget homemade camera lens filter to shoot pictures of the transit of Venus that I used to photograph the solar eclipse recently, except I made the filter area a little larger this time around.

Basically I took an old piece of flat glass and used a BIC butane lighter to put layer after layer of soot on one side of the glass till it was about as dark as welding glasses and viola a solar camera lens filter was born. CAUTION: Do not try this at home. This is a decent emergency camera filter not the best way to view solar events with your own eyes, you should only use special eclipse or welding glasses.

Here on Earth, transits of Venus come in pairs eight years apart, and there is more than a century between each pair. The last Planet Venus transit was in 2004, and the previous pair took place in 1874 and 1882. We are lucky in that we are living in a period of planetary transits and it is one of which I hope to take advantage. Venus's 2012 transit is the last such event until 2117. These images of the 2012 Venus Transit were taken by Tahoe Photographer Walter Baumgarten from Lake Tahoe, CA on June 5, 2012.

The Sun with Planet Venus
Zoomed in Close-up of Venus on Tuesday June 5th 2012

Some clouds moved in around the end of the Venus Transit but Venus was still visible through them.

Earth and Venus are similar distances from the sun, are made of the same basic materials, and are almost perfect twins in terms of size. Yet the two planets are wrapped in stunningly dissimilar blankets of air. Venus's atmosphere is almost 100 times more massive than Earth's and consists mainly of CO2, a greenhouse gas that raises the surface temperature to almost 900°F. Clouds of sulfuric acid tower 14 miles high and whip around the planet as fast as 220 mph. A human being transported to this hellish environment would be crushed, suffocate, desiccate, and possibly ignite. For the most part, planetary scientists have no idea how Venus turned out this way. "We do not understand why our sister planet's atmosphere evolved to be so different than Earth's," explains planetary scientist Thomas Widemann of the Observatoire de Paris.

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