Today was the day of the long-awaited Transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. I made sure to get my errands done (like voting for Tuesday’s California primary election) before 3 p.m. so I can enjoy this astronomical event that won’t happen for another 105 years.
I dug out my old ’80s-era Soligor Short Tube Catadioptric Telescope that my folks bought for me when Halley’s Comet last went ’round back in 1986 (I saw it, and it looked more like a potato). I’ve used this telescope before to watch some solar eclipses, as it contains a filter that makes the sun appear bright green (and thus safe to the eyes).
It was a perfect, cloudless day today, so I just set it up on my driveway and took a peek. And there it was (photo top). I saw it long enough for Venus to appear as a solid circle as opposed to just a tiny slice of the Sun.
Being that this event would last for the next several hours, so I uploaded my pic to Facebook and Twitter. Some friends mentioned they were headed up to Griffith Observatory to watch it, I told them that parking would probably be near impossible there and told them about my telescope and that I’d have free viewings on my front lawn.
First to visit was my friend Mino, whose grandmother lives just across the street and also grew up in the neighborhood. Then just a short while after he left, my friends Angela and Alejandra came by to take a peek:
By then, the transit looked like this:
Then after they left, we suddenly had a little party. Molly and Michael dropped by, offering some of their wonderful baked goods as treats (big-ups to their Secret Goldfish Baking Company), then David and his baby son Eamon (who might be able to see this again when he’s 106), then my sister Lorely dropped by, and someone who lived up the block, Camille, saw the telescope and was offered to look. She summoned her husband, William, to come down and take a look. We even offered other neighbors and even passers-by a chance to see the Transit. And of course I gave out some information on the neighborhood council (outreach never ends!)
After they left, William returned, and said his brother wanted to come check it out, but he was still on his way. By then, the sun was starting to hide behind the houses. By the time his brother Andy and his girlfriend Taz came by, it was too late here, so we hopped in my car and went up to Barnsdall Park to see the Sun before it set. In the nick of time, I set up the telescope right next to where I parked the car and they got to see the Transit of Venus before the Sun’s image got obscured by trees and set for the day.
And just like that, the show ends.
The coolest thing was, even an event some 25 million miles away suddenly became a community event, re-connecting friends and connecting neighbors. Hopefully we won’t have to wait 105 years to do something like this again!