Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Failures in Science - Part 2: Transit of Venus

In a continuation of my previous post (Part 1) I will talk about my attempt at picturing the Transit of Venus which took place shortly after the solar eclipse.

Part 2: Transit of Venus

June 5th, 2012, a little over 2 weeks after the solar eclipse, Venus passed in front of the sun during what is called the Transit of Venus.

Lessons Learned from the Solar Eclipse:

1. I did learn at least one of my lessons from last time. I went out to get the pretty cheap glasses ($1) to watch the Transit.

2. Camera's were a plenty and iPod was fully charged.

The Transit:

The failure of capturing the solar eclipse drove me to do better this time. The problem though, was that the Transit provided a much smaller target to photograph. Luckily though we had a much sunnier day and was able to see the sun for most of the period of transit.

View of the sun from the car at the lake.
We were even able to see the Transit really well with the glasses.
My wife using the paper eclipse glasses.
The only problem though was trying to capture the transit on film. We had heard that trying to take a picture with our camera could fry the lens (or something like that). So I didn't want to that directly. Especially since I only had my wife's camera and she would probably be pissed if I broke it. I figured I could try to photograph it with my iPod Touch.
View of the Transit through the glasses as photographed by my iPod Touch. The sun is partially eclipsed by some clouds.
Another photo of the Transit as photographed with my iPod Touch pressed up against the glasses after the clouds had passed.
 The problem with this though, was that the resolution of the iPod was way too low. I'm pretty sure the size of Venus was smaller than an individual pixel in the above images.

Well we headed back to the house since we didn't know of anyway to capture it well. But I wasn't giving up. The next thing I tried was to use my Aluminum Foil pinhole projection from the Solar Eclipse (pictured in the previous post).
Pinhole projection attempt.
That didn't work. Not sure if Venus was just too small to be projected in such a manner or it wasn't working at all.

The next and last attempt was to try and take a picture with our DSLR through the glasses and hope it didn't damage anything. The first picture I took was just trying it out without a filter and since I didn't have an extreme zoom I felt I wouldn't have any problem damaging the camera.
Picture of the sun without a filter. Running out of time as the sun sets behind the house and the clouds.

After taking several photos I think I might have captured it but I still can't be sure. I don't remember where Venus was at the time so I can't be sure that the darker pixel represent it and aren't just darker pixels.
View of the Transit taken with a DSLR through cheap eclipse glasses. Venus is possibly near the right edge of the sun.

Another picture of the sun zoomed in a bit. I don't think that Venus is visible in this one.
So although I had better equipment, I still wasn't adequately prepared.

Next time, though, as mentioned in the last post, I will be better prepared. Perhaps obtaining an eclipse lens would be the best bet. But I will also try out the ideas that were mentioned in the comments to get a range of results.

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