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The 2012 Transit of Venus

June 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm

So a few weeks ago, as you might remember, Venus crossed in front of the sun for the last time this century.  The next transit of Venus won't occur until December of 2117.  Not knowing if I'll have a chance to watch the next one (maybe it will be cloudy that day), I made a point of witnessing it this time around.

It was incredibly cool.  It looked a lot like this

I didn't take photos of my own because I didn't have the right equipment—or, frankly, the courage—to point my nice camera at the sun.  In fact, even though we had eclipse glasses left over from the annular eclipse of a few weeks earlier, it still felt a little freaky because in order to see Venus we had to point a pair of binoculars directly at the sun

And maybe I'm paranoid, but I kept imagining that one slip of the filter would result in this.

But that didn't happen.  (Whew.)  Our jury-rigged precautions worked quite well!  Using some spare cardboard, a roll of tape, and a pair of eclipse glasses, we turned a potential head-melting death tool like this:

Binoculars without proper sun shielding.

into a high-tech tool of scientific exploration like this:

Binoculars with high-tech sun shielding.

I knew all those years of graduate school would pay off someday.

 

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