Transit of Venus

June 5, 2012
Tenth floor of the AUM Library Tower
Montgomery AL

Approximately one hundred members, visitors, and friends of the Auburn Astronomical Society gathered at Auburn University Montgomery where astronomy professors, Randy Russell and Chad Ellington (we claim him too), already had their telescopes in position when I arrived at AUM’s Ida Bell Young Library tower’s 10th floor west confrence room at 4:00PM.  Close behind were Frank Ward, Allen Screws, Jim McLaughlin, Joe Albree, and Robert and Gloria Rock.  Also on hand were past and future AAS stargaze hosts, Susan Mallett, Priscilla Tubbs, and Greg Gosselin

“H-alpha-red punch” and “transit of Venus cookies”, along with the free solar sun glasses, were made available to visitors by the AUM faculty and staff.  The room begin to fill near capicity at the 5:05PM first contact time drew near.  As it did, a large black cloud covered most of the sky above us, including the sun.  Anticipating this, Chad had arranged to have the live Web feeds connected to the digital projector filling the large screen at the north end of the room.  We watched the Web feeds from at least three diferent wavelengths as we rechecked the telescopes and cameras and visited with the guests.

The clouds began to break up from around the sun and at 4:52. The transit of Venus was already in progress. The sky, in the west, remained was mostly clear until about 6:30.  Thin layers of clouds near the horizon gave the sun Jupiter-like belts and zones for a while.

For our marching pleasure, Chad played a recording of the “Transit of Venus March” written by John Philip Sousa in 1883 to celebrate the 1882 Transit of Venus.

Here is NASA’s Ultra-high Definition YouTube Video of the ToV with Music

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory


David T. King, Jr., Auburn 
We were able to make transit videos between 5:07 and 6:53 pm, when we had a break in the clouds.  Saw first contact and the droplet.  A large cloud came in about 6:53 pm and we did not see the Sun again.  Was nice while it lasted.  Hope you had similar good luck. 

Jason Hill, Lanett
Hey Russell,  it's been a long time.  I should try to make it to another meeting one of these days.  Hope all is well.  Thought you all might like to see a pic I captured (Transit of Venus) around 7:30 pm.   6 megpix Pentax, CP4 Refractor, Mylar filter...faux color with photoshop. 

Scott Thompson, Walker Ferry Observatory, Alex City 
I made a few transit images. It is the first time I have been in my observatory taking images in over two years! Busy, Busy, Busy... Anyway you can see them here: 
They are basically like most of the others I have seen. I was happy the clouds broke up a bit so that I could get a few snapshots between the cloud cover. 

Tom McGowan, Deatsville
Hope your Auburn party went well! I had just completed re-building Julie's 8-inch "moon"scope, literally! Months ago, I tore the original "moon"scope apart and sent the optics to Spectrum coatings for new coatings (MAX-R-EAL coatings). I got these optics done for free with the purchase of two 16-inch mirror coatings I sent! I found out about the transit only two weeks ago! That's when I feverously began construction on the new "moon" scope! I spent over 15 hours on it Sunday, finishing the construction of the rocker box! I finally  installed the optics Tuesday morning before work.
 I set up at home for 1st contact. At apprx. 5:05pm, I noticed first contact. I observed Venus  ingress for next 10-12 minutes anxiously awaiting it completely passing in front of sun. Venus was approx. 70% on the sun when a cloud blocked the view. After several "long" minutes, the cloud passed and I was able to watch the completion of Venus fully passing in front of sun. Very cool observing the black drop effect! I then put scope in my vehicle and went up to the parking lot of Marvin's Home Improvement center on Hwy 14 in Millbrook. I was graced with clear skies and able to share the transit with over 50 people over the next hour or so. Everybody was very pleased to extremely excited! Couldn't have asked for a better time!
I used a full-aperture solar filter from Thousand Oaks.

Greg Glasscock, Wetumpka 
Did you have success?  I ended up near Wetumpka.  I actually missed the entry, which is what I wanted to see the most. I posted what I shot at the following address in the Venus Transit 2012 gallery.  I should have practiced some but due to lack of time I just didn't.  I knew there would be pros shooting anyway!  But I had two 18 year olds with me that thought it was fun....success!

Russell Whigham's images from the AUM location in Montgomery

Alan Cook, Auburn
Sorry I wasn't able to join everyone in Montgomery but I had some other commitments yesterday evening in Auburn.  However I did get to see the first contact live through my Questar since the clouds parted for this most strategic period.  I got great views of the sunlight refracting through the atmosphere of Venus as the planet passed through the limb of the sun.  I think Scott Thompson got the qunitessential teardrop image. 

Thanks to everyone for sharing their photos.

Gail Smitherman, Selma
Great view from Selma for about one and half hrs before tree tops interupted view.Got to dust off the solor filter.  I think I purchased it for the 2004 transit. Feel lucky to have seen them both!

Glynn Alexander, Montgomery
Due to the heavy cloud cover and light sprinkling, it looked hopeless at 5:00 CDT at the Alabama Shakespear Park.  But 30 minutes later the spinkling ceased and the Sun broke through an open area between the clouds.  From this point on, the view was excellent till the Sun dropped below the treetops.  My wife and I viewed it with my Meade ETX-70 thru a Scopetronix Class "A" Solar Filter designed for the ETX-70.  The eyepieces used were Meade 25mm and Meade 9mm.
Looks like you had a great turn out at AUM too.  Bet it got a little exciting there when the Sun broke clear of the clouds.

Keith Hudson sent this report from a boat on the Tennessee River:
Hope all is well with you and family!  As per your request below, note I saw the Venus transit from a boat on the Tennessee River, just upriver from Wheeler Dam.  This was the best horizon I could think of, and we watched the event until sunset.  Afterward, we motored over to a bat cave on the river and watched an evening emergence gray bats from the cave.  While motoring back after dark in the boat, the stars really came out with excellent viewing of the Spring/Summer constellations.  Though I don't email much, I do read the Astrofiles and think of you and the AAS folks often.  Just had to share my evening with some kindred spirits.

Scott & Rebecca Carnahan, from Arkansas
Rebecca and I spent last night on an island in Lake Ouachita near Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.  The weather and location were perfect for viewing the transit.  I think a cloud only covered the sun for about ten minutes.  I have never done any solar observing before, but I took some pictures of what we saw projected through my 20x80s onto a paper plate.  I was pleasantly surprised with the size and clarity of the projection.   We especially liked when the trees showed up in the projection:

Joseph Jackson, Letohatchee 
I will send you my images including some partially obscured by the clouds. I want to put together a little narrative with the images.  Taken late during the transit. I have about 20 good shots. The clouds were a real problem

Chad Ellington, Montgomery
Attached are a sampling of the images I took earlier today at our event. Plenty more where these came from. 

Here are a few higher resolution versions. Not as many of these with clouds drifting by. 

Joe Champion, from Wetumpka
I did not realize any one was gathering photos that were taken. I probably did not pay attention to a previous email. I made the pictures using a standard solar lens that came with my telescope this was taken from Wetumpka, Alabama that afternoon. I noticed you did not have anything in green!

Mark Brown
Rick Evans sends this from Mark Brown, who used to work at the planetarium and was a member of the AAS when he was here:

Clouds completely blanketed us for the entire day.  I was prepared to drive 100s of miles.  Decided with all the company I had in town that I needed to stay close by regardless if I didn’t get to see it.  I drove about 15 minutes from my house to an education center located on one of our local mountains.  By 5:45, the skies had parted like the Red Sea and gave a great view for us for about an hour.  We then had intermittent clouds until sundown.

Here are a couple of pics.

Mack Acheson sent a positive report and images from Louisiana

Randy Russell writes:
Please convey my thanks to all of the Auburn Astronomical Society members who helped make the AUM viewing a great success.

Jeff Jumper, WSFA TV
Thanks for helping me on Tuesday night.  Everyone at the station got a chance to see it because of your help!  Here's the link for the video. (If the video doesn't appear, hit your browser's "reload".)

Jeff Jumper CBM
Evening Meteorologist
WSFA 12 News - Montgomery, AL

Frank C. Williams, AUM
Chad sends this link to photo gallery of Tuesday's transit of Venus in the library tower, by Frank C. Williams AUM Photographic Specialist ant AUM with mostly images of the goings-ons in the room. Great album to look through!

Chad Ellington sent images and this link to: < blog & gallery> 
This blog by Natalie Wade, al.coma, gives a nice summary, including photos of the Transit of Venus event at AUM yesterday. Just be sure to look at the gallery, or enlarge the image and work your way forwards and backwards though all the images.

I'm still reeling from the spectacle of it all myself.

Everett Leonard, Columbus, GA
In Columbus, the sun began breaking through the overcast skies right at the start of the transit.  A good crowd (at least 30-40) was on hand at CCSSC.  The Transit of Venus planetarium show was screened a couple of times and NASA TV’s coverage was shown in the lobby.  Unfortunately, there were technical problems with the web cast feeds, but they were able to display images from Columbus and Bryce Canyon in Utah early on, then a Calcium K-line image from Australia a bit later; the Mongolia feed was offline until fairly deep into the transit, as I understand it.  They had a PST and a couple of Dobs with solar filters set up for viewing, as can be seen in the news clip.

WTVM was on hand filming a report:

Robert Rock,
Turned out great after all of the threat of clouds.  Had a few nice shots through the windows at AUM.

John Howard sent this image that shows the surface granularity exceptionally well.