Monday, June 4, 2012

Venus transit of the Sun - June 5, 2012


On June 5, 2012 between about 15:00 and 15:30 Venus will start to move between the Earth and the Sun. Depending on your location on our planet, you will see the planet appear to move across the face of the Sun as a small black dot. This event happens once every 120 years, and occurs in pairs, eight years apart. For all of us alive today, this is the last chance to view this event, as most probably, none of us will be alive the next time it occurs.
More Information:
The planet Venus is about half-way between the Earth and the Sun, which means the Sun is twice as far as Venus. If the Sun were as far a Venus, the Sun would appear to be much bigger, and our Earth would be very very hot.
Now consider this: out Earth is about the same size as (just a little smaller than) the planet Venus. If you see the transit of Venus across the Sun, you will be able to get an idea of how small our Earth is, compared to the Sun.
In Islam, these events serve as a signs from Allah, The God. They show us the huge and magnificent mechanism that He has created, and set to work in perfect balance. The mechanism has been working for billions of years, and will continue to work for a while, until the arrival of the pre-determined time for it's end.
For Muslims, it is a time for reflection, and a time to turn to Allah in prayers, in humility, and with thankfulness for everything.
Insha Allah (Allah willing), I will post the results of my attempt to view the transit as edits to this post.


Below are pictures of my equipment rigged up for solar observation. The totally amateur image projection rig was made for $0.00, with material found in our home. I made the projection rig because it can be harmful to look at the sun directly, especially with binoculars or telescopes, unless we have proper solar filters. (Sorry for the fuzzy quick & dirty pictures, I took them with my cellphone in less than adequate lighting conditions:)

Orion WorldView 10x50 binoculars Solar Observation Rig

Orion WorldView 10x50 binoculars were rigged with foam sheet pieces on the objective (for aiming hole), and the eyepiece (for the target where sun's image from the aiming hole is to be projected). The projection screen was cut-out from a 3-hole file folder that had smooth white surface on the inside. The objective lens was covered with two circular discs cut out from a foam sheet, with holes in the middle. The projection screen was supported with a channel made out of an open manila folder, with the sides folded up to give it some rigidity. Some blue painter's tape was used for later easy dis-assembly with no tape residue. Scotch tape was used to fix up the projection screen.

Aperture Control

The smaller hole can be uncovered as shown, to increase the light going into the lens, thus brightening the image. I was not sure how big a hole (aperture) I need, so I made it configurable.

First Light

Here is the first-light image of the sun captured with my cellphone camera. Later pictures with my digital Rebel XT show sun-spots too (coming soon)!

The Transit Day

On June 5, 2012 at about 3PM local California time, I setup my fancy wancy solar projection system inside my minivan, with the sliding side-door open. Placing it inside the minivan minimized the wind-induced shaking of the precious delicate equipment (the manila folder channel supporting the projection screen). Unfortunately, unlike my trial run at home a couple of days ago, I had trouble finding the proper camera position to take snaps of the image on the projection screen. I ended up craned with my neck bent against the top of the door frame, pressing hard against it, to get the image into the minimum focus range of my Tamron 55-200mm lens.

I managed to get several pictures of the ingress, and post-ingress states. But I could not capture the Venus ring of fire.

After the ingress had ended, I moved the setup to outside the main entrance to my office building. All the office folks came out and we had a small outreach event. My boss had his family come over from home to witness the transit, and upon his invitation, a neighbor in the office building also came to see the transit.

All the folks were amazed to hear that the little dot (planet Venus) is about the same size as our Earth. And since the Sun is twice as far as the planet, if the Sun were right next to Venus, it would be several times bigger (I held my hands about two feet apart to show them approximately how big it would be). Then I asked to consider how small the earth is in comparison. They all said that it puts things into perspective, and shows how insignificant we really are.

Pictures of the Venus Transit of 2012

Post-Ingress image captured using my Motorola Droid 3 camera

The little dot inside the white circle is Venus. You can also see some sun-spots in the white circle (which is the Sun). Sun-sports are cause by giant fire storms on the surface of the sun.

More pictures to come later Insha Allah...