07 June 2012

The Transit of Venus

When we were running at 6.30am yesterday, the sky was mostly cloudy and we felt some despair. However, by 8am the sky was largely clear... except in the lower east. By 8.12, the sun had peeked above the clouds, and we got the solar scope set up on the footpath just in time to see first contact at 8.16. Hooray! We proceeded to watch until second contact was made... and then it was time for me to scurry off to school. But that wasn't the last of our observing.

J brought the scope to school and we set it up with some hope for the middle two periods. There were classes lined up to come and look but... it was mostly cloudy. Again. We were sad. Still, we kept it tracking for an hour and a half, and just before lunch we thought to pack up... but there was a break in the clouds, so we decided to be optimists. Which was a good idea, because bang on the lunch bell the sun came out and stayed out for the entirety of lunchtime, and something like 200 students (and a few teachers) came out to have a look at what everyone else described as a little black dot on the red circle. (Me, used to seeing sunspots, thought Venus looked enormous.) It was highly entertaining to hear the jaded turn into the amazed.

The sun stayed out for a while after lunch, so a couple of classes did actually come out and have a look. All in all I felt very pleased with my attempt at introducing more people to the glories of the sun. Maybe it will have inspired a few!

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