There’s a Little Black Spot on the Sun Today (Or There Was Yesterday)

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You can see a dark area between the edge of the Sun and the edge of Venus. Click to embiggen. Photo: Jenny Williams

I am fortunate to live in a town with plenty of astronomy enthusiasts. There is a very active Astronomy Club, and plenty of amateur astronomers with their own telescopes. I even have my own (a six inch Dobsonian reflector). A friend of mine has several solar telescopes, and a bunch of us gathered to watch the transit of Venus across the Sun yesterday. (If I weren’t so lucky to have this friend, there were several places around town that I could have gone to view the transit.)

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You can see light around the entirety of Venus, if you look closely. Click to embiggen. Photo: Jenny Williams

We gathered in advance of the transit, and got the telescopes all set up. Where I live in Arizona, we would get to see Venus starting to cross the Sun, but the Sun would set before we’d see Venus exit. But we made the most of our opportunity.

Peeking in each of the telescopes every couple of minutes, I got to see Venus as it just barely touched the edge of the Sun, then I got to see where Venus wasn’t quite totally in front of the Sun but the corona lit the entirety of Venus from behind. Then I managed to get several pictures of the optical illusion of a dark area between Venus and the edge of the Sun as it got swallowed up.

I still had some eclipse glasses from the recent solar eclipse, so we used those as well. Those with a keen eye could see Venus in front of the face of the Sun.

We all stopped looking in the telescope quite as often while Venus crawled slowly across the Sun’s surface. But even though the images to see at that point were less exciting, the importance and rarity of this event still wasn’t lost on us.

How did you experience the Venus transit? Did you gather with friends, kids running amok, and spend the afternoon gazing at the sun? Or did you head to your local library, community college, or observatory and share with the public? Regardless, I hope most of you were able to witness this twice-in-a-lifetime event.

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Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.