I've been planning this one for months; back in April, I used the
upcoming transit as my excuse to FINALLY buy a serious digital camera,
one that I can use on my telescope. )
Here's my report on how the day went
TRIP REPORT, TRANSIT OF VENUS 2012 (June 5, 2012)
But the forecasts for June 5th were calling for clouds.
the nearest clear skies were west of Toledo.
down to “cloudy with 50% chance of rain”.
to go down to my local astronomy club's viewing at the
Schenectady Museum and stand around with them,
and hope for a break in the clouds.
that there were clear skies up on the St. Lawrence: a band of
dry air was pushing up the St. L valley, including the south side
of Lake Ontario. Malone, Watertown are hopeless to get to;
Plattsburgh was clear at noon, but looked like it would be first to
cloud up again.
in Syracuse in under 2 hours:
Oswego can’t be 3 hours away: I can DO this.
Or, more precisely: I HAVE to do this.
to “Mostly cloudy, 20% chance of rain”,
but, hell: that still didn’t compete with “Sunny”.)
(I used the new Civic because I had more gear than
would fit in the Red Menace; AND because I
wanted to be reasonably certain that I'd get there.)
ETX telescope box with various solar filters.
Because over the weekend, I had lost hope, and didn’t rehearse.)
on the fancy new MF-26 control back on the N90s.
the SUNY campus, looking for a view of the NW horizon.
NOT A CLOUD IN THE SKY. Ah, here we go:
43 County Route 89,
Oswego, NY 13126
just west of the college campus.*
A beautiful spot, actually.
4:40pm, just about 160 miles out. Plenty of time to spare.
At 4:45, the place was empty.
brought their toddler out for soft-serve....)
In the course of the evening, I chatted with a few soft-serve
consumers; one told me that there WAS a viewing up on campus.
But I had lacked enough spare time to find them.)
the reported conditions back at the local reporting station:
from 16:40 until long past 19:54, the lakeview sky was still “Fair” for me.)
I sat down with the manual and tried to figure out the
multi-function back I had bought for the N90 -
but it was new enough that I hadn't even confirmed that it
In theory, I could have set it up to start at 6:03:30
and take a frame every :30 or :40 seconds,
right through second contact.
In practice, I wasn't even sure that I could keep
the ETX on target for that long.
So I decided to skip film photography.
the last until the year 2117.
I watched from the start until about 8:30, which was
(effectively) local sunset (a cloud bank on the far shore
(as I was on the smaller lens), and I didn’t see it for
10 seconds or more after the predicted times.
timing the entry is somewhat harder than
timing the exit (which is what I had seen in 2004).
for the 2004 event, much better transparency - but I had trouble
setting up cameras on the back port, and was too busy watching /
using the V1 to futz with it much..
saved me $20-$40 on processing.)
but that must be recorded in the EXIF data (or, hell, I could even
go back out sometime and recover it if I had to.)
U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department
Oswego, NY, (long. W76.5, lat. N43.5):
Tuesday 5 June 2012 Eastern Daylight Time SUN Begin civil twilight 4:51 a.m. Sunrise 5:26 a.m. Sun transit 1:05 p.m. Sunset 8:43 p.m. End civil twilight 9:19 p.m.
I lost the sun behind the clouds at just about my home sunset time.)
All told, I was surprisingly casual about
a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity:
I never even bothered setting up the V1 on the ETX.
It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
I decided to spend more of my limited time watching
and less time fighting with photo gear. Very few people have
ever had a chance to see the Dark Side of Venus.
(My other regret is that my family was otherwise engaged and
couldn't be pulled out of their various commitments to come with me.
And having TWO scopes set up was decidedly overly-ambitious
without someone along to assist. My girls - back home
under the clouds, but using the solar glasses - think they saw it
for a few minutes through breaks in the clouds.)
far shore of Lake Ontario. This was only about ten minutes
before the theoretical local sunset. (This was less than four hours
after my arrival on-station.)
as viewing deteriorated - the first order of business now
was to hunt for gas, as I had sailed into Oswego
with only about 12 miles showing on the range meter,
too nerve-wrackingly low to go back to the cheaper gas
I had seen on Rt 481 ten miles back in Fulton.
at 9:02pm $20.00 @ 375.9 = 5.320g, at 168.8m trip
“Friendly’s” was the best/most obvious choice I had seen coming in.
AND they were open until midnight. Too bad they’re always so slow.
No receipt, either.)
were now on the American side of the lake? - on 481-South,
but they didn’t have anything good left at 10pm.)
home via the old same route. (5S / 162 / 20)
41.0 mpg showing on the trip meter.
The return leg was 161.5 miles:
therefore, probably about eight miles knocking around Oswego.
standing on the shore of Lake Ontario.
a theoretical 8.06g of gas (call it about $30);
plus 330 miles of wear on the car.
(On the other hand, I didn’t commute into work Tuesday
(saving at least 31m on the car); just going to the local viewing
would have been 18 miles or so. The cost of the meal is also
negligible: I had to eat anyway - and I had to see the transit.)
flying to Hawaii to see the entirety of the transit.
(Queens College CUNY, B.A. in communications and theater, 1976.)