Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Venus Transit of June 6, 2012: Eyepiece Projection Images

Venus Transit 2012 in post ingress. The Sun appears like an orange.

Venus in ingress.
Here are a few images of the transit of Venus (June 6, 2012). They are simple eyepiece projection images using a 3-inch classic Edmund Scientific reflector and a piece of cardboard. Times for ingress and egress were referenced from the Eclipses app for the iPhone/iPad. These images were taken using an iPad 2 from a Southern Tagalog city in the Philippines. Initial images during ingress were captured with foreground foliage partially blocking the sun, creating shadows. The inset shows Venus in visual ingress contact which occurred less than a minute after 6:30 am.

Note that these images are not representative of the actual appearance of the Sun's surface. The position of Venus of the Sun's disk is relative to the position of the camera. Most of the markings, apart from Venus and a few sunspots, are from shadows and the texture of the cardboard, which gives the Sun an artistic mottled appearance. The lines in the lower right corner of the following image are from the folds of the handheld cardboard onto where the images were projected. It's a simple set-up, but it does the job.

Venus Transit 2012. Projection on cardboard with shadows of foliage.
The transit of Venus of June 6, 2012 is the last one in the 21st century, with the previous transit occurring on June 8, 2004. The next transit of Venus will not happen until December, 2117 and the same month in 2125. So those who took the time to view this year's transit were lucky to have participated in an event that may occur only once in a lifetime.

Venus towards mid transit.
Attempts to use the Venus Transit app for the iPhone/iPad did not materialize due to the timer's failure to be available at the time of ingress. A message kept appearing that the counter will only be available during the actual transit (which was already happening). Mid transit was scheduled to occur at an altitude of 55 degrees and calculated by the Eclipses app to occur at 9:31:24 am in my current location.

Venus nears its exit.
Egress began some time before 1 pm. At this time, there were some discernible sunspots. As Venus continued its exit from the Sun's limb, it appeared as if a part of the Sun had been bitten off. At about the same time, NASA sent a tweet of an image of Venus exiting the Sun's face showing detailed features.

I didn't get the chance to take pictures of the final contact in egress since the iPad's battery ran out. But I had enough images of the event to use in this blog post, which was really my intention from the beginning. If you want to view or take images of the Sun using a similar method, just make sure you don't accidentally peer into the eyepiece. This method doesn't use any filter and the focused light of the Sun can burn your eye. You can also use some other paper. Try experimenting with white paper, even translucent paper. See what effects you can get.

Venus starts to exit the Sun in egress.

Venus exits the face of the Sun, which now looks bitten out of.

Venus bids farewell.

How the images of the Venus Transit 2012 were captured.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Eclipses iPhone/iPad App Lets You Find Solar and Lunar Eclipses

Ever heard of the expression, "There's an app for that"? Talking about eclipses, you'd ask if there's an app that will tell you about eclipses in the past, present and future. Well, there is such an app made by Olav Andrade. For those who are curious if there's an eclipse coming near you, you can download this app and see for yourself.

As of this posting, a partial lunar eclipse is scheduled to take place on June 4, and then there's the Venus Transit of 2012. Just by consulting the app, you'll be able to see if it is visible in your local area and what time it will start and end. You'll no longer need to wonder about the time of maximum eclipse. The app is fairly simple, but it does the job and will keep you informed about solar and lunar eclipses decades into the future. If you're into astronomy, or you have a kid interested in the science, the Eclipses app is a good one to get you up to speed on eclipses. The Eclipses app is available for free here.

NOTE: As of this writing, an error which pushes the current event to the next one prematurely exists in the app. Hopefully, it's already been updated to address the problem.